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Prime Minister vows ‘seamless transition’ to new Air Malta

Robert Abela on Sunday assured that a “seamless transition” will take place to a "new" Air Malta.

The government will be launching the new airline replacing Air Malta on Monday at the end of marathon and often turbulent discussions with the European Commission

Speaking during a political activity, Abela said the transition will not see any interruptions in the service offered by Air Malta.

He said the key principle behind the new move is to ensure a sustainable airline that does not rely on government support.

Abela said Air Malta’s fleet size will not be reduced.

Details on the new airline are to be given during a news conference by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana on Monday.

Months-long discussions with the EU came to an end in the last weeks with Brussels turning down the government’s request for an injection of State aid into the long-struggling national airline. Under EU rules, member States must seek approval from the European Commission before giving financial assistance. 

Two years ago, Malta asked Brussels for permission to pump €290 million into the airline in a last-ditch attempt to save it, proposing a five-year State aid financing plan intended to help turn the company into a sustainable, profit-making enterprise.

But Air Malta chairman David Curmi recently said the commission preferred Malta to emulate the model used by Italy, which reached an agreement with Brussels to close down its flag carrier, Alitalia and open a new national airline which it called ITA.

The company will be called KM Malta Airlines plc, with changes expected to Air Malta’s aircraft livery.