Air Malta’s executive chairman has provided a sombre forecast about the airline’s future, warning that “very unpleasant” decisions will have to be taken if it is to remain afloat.
David Curmi spoke about Air Malta’s future at a conference organised by lobby group MHRA for tourism stakeholders, starting his speech by referring to the closure of Italy’s flag carrier Alitalia.
“Alitalia will close today, which is a sign of the difficult times the airline industry is facing,” he said.
“Despite the Italian government doing everything possible to save the airline, they had no other option but to create another airline.”
Over the past months, Malta has been negotiating with the European Commission over potential state aid to the airline, which took a huge hit following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has been extremely coy about the negotiations, only stating that talks are still ongoing.
Today, Curmi confirmed that Air Malta has presented detailed studies to the European Commission which highlight how few flights the national airline cuts to and from Malta in the winter months, relative to other airlines.
“This is a very important consideration,” Curmi said, calling for an end to discussions on whether Malta should give up hope of retaining its national airline.
“I think Malta must retain a national airline, be it the current one or a new one, but the island must have connectivity. This is critical, and if some people still doubt this then we have a problem.”
However, he warned that it’s “impossible” for the airline’s operations to be financially unsustainable.
“The answer is a sustainable airline; you do that by taking very bold and very unpleasant decisions, which in my opinion must be taken.”
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