Ryanair will be setting up a new airline based in Malta, turning the island from a holiday destination into a transit hub in the south of Europe.
The Irish low-cost giant has announced that it will be founding Malta Air, which will incorporate the 61 routes the company currently operates to and from the island, while also announcing plans to double its fleet in Malta to 10 planes as well as setting up a new hangar for maintenance and repair operations.
The Minister for Tourism, Konrad Mizzi confirmed with Lovin Malta that discussions with Ryanair for the establishment and growth of a Malta-based airline are at an advanced stage.
“Once concluded this will be an innovative partnership which forms part of our vision to develop Malta into an aviation hub in the heart of the Mediterranean – helping to secure a prosperous future for our children, and theirs. We had a tough, business-focused negotiation – which you’d expect from a global brand like RyanAir – but we are working to secure a fantastic deal for Malta. Just as importantly, we’ve built a bond of trust with a world-renowned company, and demonstrated that we are open for business, and open to the world,” Mizzi said.
It is believed that Malta air, which will be focused on low-cost flights, will be ‘complementary’ to Airmalta, which will increasingly be focused on business class flights, flights to major cities, and long haul flights, such as to Mumbai and New York.
“The government will continue to invest in Airmalta which is growing and focusing on a different business model and market offering,” Mizzi said.
This new deal will mean Ryanair is committed to working and operating from Malta
Ryanair’s aircraft will now be flying the Maltese flag, and their operations will be ‘locked onto’ the island. With the deal imminent, it will become increasingly harder for the Irish company to step away from the island.
This announcement comes after months of negotiations between Ryanair and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.
The Maltese government will own ‘golden shares’ in the new company, and will have a veto when it comes to discussions on the sale of Malta Air to a third party
The existing Ryanair planes, as well as the new additions, will be registered to the Maltese aviation register. While the location of the new company’s headquarters hasn’t been announced yet, a government source said up to 350 people will be employed there.
Malta Air will be firmly in the low-cost carrier airline bracket, hoping to emulate the success that Ryanair has achieved internationally. Ryanair has recently acquired Austria’s Lauda Air with similar ideas in mind, but with Ryanair’s operations in Malta being among their best-performing, having a base in Malta increasingly made sense.
The Irish company’s show of trust in Malta and its infrastructures means that Malta aviation industry is set to grow even more over the next few years.
Are you excited for a Maltese low-cost airline?