Ponte Ferries, the beleaguered company running a Malta-Sicily fast ferry service until it halted operations last month, has now been hit with a second arrest warrant concerning its only vessel, the HSC Artemis.
This second arrest warrant in a week was issued against Ponte Ferries following an urgent court application filed by Valletta Cruise Port, the company managing the 30-year-old catamaran’s berth.
According to information filed in court, which was accompanied by a notification for the vessel’s seizure, Valletta Cruise Port is claiming it is owed some €200,000 in unpaid bills.
The Shift is informed that over its short stint of operations, Ponte Ferries accumulated substantial debts for services provided by various firms and it is not being excluded at this stage that more asset seizures application will be filed in the coming days.
This second arrest warrant over unpaid bills follows a court application by the Focal Maritime Services Ltd shipping agency.
According to that application, Ponte Ferries owed the agency €110,000 for various services, and The Shift is informed that this first arrest warrant was dropped yesterday following a settlement between Ponte Ferries and Focal Maritime.
However, as soon as the arrest warrant was lifted, a fresh warrant was issued by the courts soon after the filing of Valletta Cruise Port’s new claims.
Ponte Ferries operate the new passenger ferry service between Malta and Augusta in Sicily, but stopped operations last September after a month of complaints about shoddy service, as well as over problems with the authorities in both Malta and Sicily.
Fortina Group CEO Edward Zammit Tabona and Christian Magro, the son of Magro Group owner John Magro, are its directors.
Ponte Ferries started its operations off on the wrong foot when in 2021 it had to delay its launch because of vessel-related complications, both technical and administrative, which left hundreds of passengers stranded for their summer holidays.
Its vessel was also arrested in Augusta last May and it cancelled crossings last September with passengers already on board.
While the company has so far only announced the pausing of operations as from the end of September, it did not announce whether it will be resuming them, and The Shift is informed that most of the crew members have been laid off.