Air Malta consultancy raises questions on ‘collusion’ to retain top management

Air Malta’s engagement of aviation consultancy firm Knighthood Global Ltd (KGL) raises questions on “collusion” between the government and the company to transfer the national airline’s top management to the newly formed company according to Opposition MP Adrian Delia.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Delia asked who would select the new airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, and Chief Strategy Officer, additionally asking for their salaries and backgrounds.

He questioned whether Knighthood Global, tasked with the transition to the new airline despite being unsuccessfully engaged to ‘save’ Air Malta for €2.4 million in 2021, had chosen those occupying the new airline’s key management positions.

Air Malta plc., the company which has served as the national airline for the last 50 years, will be closing down on 31 March 2024 despite multiple attempts at saving it.

The government will create a new airline to take its place, racking up at least €440 million in taxpayer costs.

In his post, Delia asked: “Is it true that [the CCO, COO, and CSO] are all foreign? Is it true that they are all being paid a €250,000 salary? Was their appointment Knighthood Global’s choice?”

Delia’s questions were raised following responses by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana to parliamentary questions by Opposition MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici, which revealed that Air Malta was engaging Knighthood Global for €200,000 per month from June 2022, apart from costs related to other consultancies.

In comments to The Shift, Delia claimed, “payments affected to Knighthood Global showing they were paid before June 2022 may mean there was collusion between government, the consultants engaged to assist Air Malta, now engaged in consulting on its demise, and the new company.”

“Was Knighthood Global involved in choosing and appointing people to key management roles in Air Malta before the decision to close down the airline? Were these people then assured they will retain their jobs?”

The Shift exclusively revealed the government’s secret plan to shut down Air Malta in August 2022, just a month after the government’s consultancy contract with Knighthood Global, tabled in parliament on Wednesday, was signed by Air Malta CEO David Curmi.

The Abu Dhabi-based company is being consulted to transition Air Malta to a new carrier despite previously and unsuccessfully being engaged in restructuring and saving the airline.

Caruana has not divulged who will be shouldering the costs, which will amount to at least €4.8 million over two years, raising questions on EU state aid violations in the case they will be doled out by the taxpayer.

James Hogan and James Rigney, the co-owners of Knighthood Global, were previously employed as CEO and CFO, respectively, of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. In 2017, they were forced to step down by the Abu Dhabi government after the airline suffered heavy losses due to the implementation of an unsuccessful expansion strategy.

It was not the only airline to fail on their watch.

                           

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A. Fan
A. Fan
4 months ago

Now, who do we know that apparently like to spend time in the UAE? Need to ‘populate’ those offshore accounts of theirs somehow…

E. Abela
E. Abela
4 months ago

Is government deliberately committing hara kiri at the expense of the Maltese taxpayers? Can anyone halt this madness ?

Last edited 4 months ago by E. Abela
Frank Galea
Frank Galea
4 months ago
Reply to  E. Abela

I agree completely! As members of the EU, our Govt is accountable to the Commission as regards the way our finances are spent!

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
4 months ago

Their aim is to milk the nation.

Breitling Lover
Breitling Lover
4 months ago

Knight Hood Capital partners operates in the UAE ( Abu Dhabi ) Malta ( Tigne Point ) and Switzerland ( Geneva ). In all 3 countries they own companies that offer consultancies. Notice how the UAE company was used to consult with the Maltese gov. Why that ? Why not use the Tigne Point one ? Is it easier to initiate internal UAE bank transfers without European regulator scrutiny?

James Hogan was awarded a Maltese Passport 5 yrs ago. Did he pay for it under the IIP scheme or was it awarded by the Maltese gov for his “ extraordinary talent”’(sic)?. (As a matter of fact his Swiss ‘C’ residency permit is based on his Maltese nationality).

Zazu
Zazu
4 months ago

Air Malta … Too corrupt for too long. When can we expect some justice??!!!

wenzu
wenzu
4 months ago

raising questions on EU state aid violations”— I really hope the EU is looking into this AND prepared to take action if necessary. The taxpayers have had it up to the neck with Air Malta’s waste.

Bamboccu
Bamboccu
4 months ago

Who will select the new HR?
Will Genovese the PMs friend be retained?

Mario
Mario
4 months ago

CCO EX Etihad COO just joined km six months ago ex Etihad, CFOO just joined 2 months ago ex Etihad others in commercial ex Etihad and ex Alitalia. Surely cannot be a coincidence. All given 3 year contracts with obviously intention to run the new KM.

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