Ponte Ferries, which started operating daily crossings between Malta and the port of Augusta, in southern Sicily last year, will not be resuming operations after pausing for winter last September.
Augusta port authorities have confirmed with The Shift that the company has thrown in the towel and informed them that it no longer has any intention of resuming operations.
The Maltese company has also asked for the revocation of its 10-year port concession, which it obtained only last year.
Asked to explain why it will not be resuming the route this year, Ponte Ferries CEO Edward Zammit Tabona has not yet replied.
Ponte’s folding will leave Virtu Ferries, which has been operating the Malta-Pozzallo route for the past 30 years in an almost monopolistic situation save for the last year’s short-lived Ponte experiment, as the only catamaran operator between Malta and Sicily.
Some form of competition on the route is on the horizon with Pama and Pavi supermarkets’ owner Paul Gauci, who has purchased a concession to operate the Marina di Ragusa, having also bought a catamaran to begin daily crossings from Malta to the Ragusa marina.
Transport Malta is still to issue a licence for the venture and it is not yet known when those operations are due to commence. The development will be welcomed by travellers but the vessel, an old Virtu catamaran, has limited passenger capacity.
Ponte Ferries, which acquired the 600-passenger HSC Artemis to challenge Virtu’s monopoly, started operations only last year.
But the company suffered port arrests, technical trouble, sudden crew resignations and gross timetable delays, which led to bad press and sour customer relations.
The company had announced last September that it was “pausing operations for winter” without saying when it intended to resume them.
The company was also hit with several court-issued arrest warrants over hundreds of thousands of euros it owed various service providers. Its vessel is still arrested over pending bills with the Valletta Cruise Port, where the vessel used berthing facilities, among others.
The ferry company is owned by Ponte Investments Ltd, in which Gozitan tomato products producers Magro Brothers and Julian and Michael Zammit Tabona of the Fortina Group are majority shareholders. Fortina Group CEO Edward Zammit Tabona and Magro Brothers CEO Christian Magro are on the company’s board of directors.
Poor souls they don’t have funds to pay their dues.
Let’s organise a charity fund to fund these dues.
Naraw kbir wisq!
When one wants to gobble all the goodies one sees on the way one will feel sick and will suffer the consequences after.
It seems they can buy the maltese government but not the Italian?
Can anyone investigate this tender? For me, this seems a bail-out on the Ponteferries fiasco… https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid0JTWN82obuc9UitMfU9xUdsWJ2XZEA45Gf7Avg2g41636EBKKmBrbRFXUvhxUqz9Kl&id=100046536262130
The Sicilian mafia is more powerful than the Maltese version.
Bunch of amateurs.