The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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‘Opportunity missed’ to involve private sector in new airline ownership, management - MHRA president

Sabrina Zammit Wednesday, 3 April 2024, 08:02 Last update: about 15 days ago

An excellent opportunity was missed to involve the private sector in the ownership direction and management of KM Malta Airlines, the President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association Tony Zahra told The Malta Independent.

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, for many years, has been saying that the ownership model of the National Airline does not work, he said. 

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“The model whereby the Government of Malta owns 100% of the National Airline has resulted in many differing strategies over the last years, mostly dependent on political and not commercial decisions. The result was financial failure,” The MHRA President said in reply to questions sent by this newsroom.

Last Saturday marked the last flight of Air Malta, after operating for 50 years. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana last year said that former politicians from both administrations over the years had "used and abused" Air Malta for their own benefit.  Caruana said that a company which was meant to make profit needed responsible decisions to be made. "Had things been done properly, this company would not have to go through this. It was used and abused, and these are the facts at the end of the day," Caruana had said.

In hir response to questions, Zahra expressed concern that the “new airline will at some stage come under political pressure to take political, rather than commercial decisions.”

“If and when this happens, KM Malta Airlines will start on a slippery slope and might well end up where Air Malta finished. Government has to be brave and invite the private sector now to participate in the ownership of the new company,” he said.

The MHRA also issued a press statement about the new airline yesterday. It paid homage to Air Malta’s profound impact on Malta's tourism industry and broader economy. Since its inception, Air Malta has been a cornerstone of economic growth and social progress, facilitating vital connectivity for the island nation, the MHRA said in a statement. Tony Zahra, President of MHRA, reflected on Air Malta's journey, expressing both pride and regret. "MHRA has been privileged to witness Air Malta's pivotal role in shaping Malta's economic and social landscape," Zahra remarked. "However, it saddens us that Air Malta, once cherished as a national asset, was at times exploited for short-term gain, ultimately leading to its unfortunate closure."

Despite the challenges faced in closing down Air Malta, Zahra commends all those involved in the transition for orchestrating a seamless transition to KM Malta Airlines. "The birth of KM Malta Airlines marks a new chapter in Malta's aviation history," he states. "MHRA extends its gratitude to everyone involved for navigating the complex transition process with commendable professionalism."

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