Air Malta chairman replaced ahead of anticipated move to new airline

Philip von Brockdorff, a university professor already sitting on several government boards, has been appointed as the new chairman of Air Malta, just months before the airline is set to close for good.

Meanwhile, former chairman David Curmi is set to be appointed CEO of the still-unnamed new national carrier in a move that is not sitting well with Brussels.

Sources told The Shift that the move is just cosmetic and the appointment of von Brockdorff, an existing board member, is designed to allow Curmi to be appointed as the head of the replacement airline as of 1 April 2024.

After years of mismanagement and losses of hundreds of millions of euro, Air Malta will fold at the end of March next year and will be replaced by a ‘new’ airline.

Malta asked the European Commission to allow the funding of the new airline’s creation, with Brussels giving the Finance Ministry the green light under strict conditions so as not to infringe the EU’s state aid rules.

While the agreement is still unpublished, conditions include the complete closure of Air Malta, the sacking of all staff, and the new airline not being a copy of its predecessor through economic discontinuity.

But sources in Brussels told The Shift that while the appointment of a new chairman is insignificant on paper, it is perceived that the Maltese government seems set on creating a second version of Air Malta.

“We are following all these developments and noticing that little is being done, at least so far, to demonstrate that the problems leading to Air Malta’s bankruptcy are not being repeated. This is not looking good; we are giving the benefit of the doubt,” EU sources said.

Philip von Brockdorff

Von Brockdorff, a professor at the Economics Faculty,  where the finance minister is a visiting lecturer, has been given a number of state board appointments, including the the Malta Development Bank, the Malta Financial Services Authority, the Retail Price Index Advisory Committee, among others.

It is estimated these positions bring him some €40,000 a year on top of his full-time university salary.

Appointed executive chairman in 2021, the government gave David Curmi a brief to prepare a new restructuring plan and save Air Malta from collapse.

However, his mission failed as Curmi’s five-year plan, presented to Brussels asking for some €300 million in state aid, was shot down.

David Curmi

Following this rejection, the government was forced to enter new negotiations with Brussels, asking for the complete closure of the airline.

Instead of starting afresh by replacing the chairman, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana reiterated his total confidence in Curmi, stating that he would be leading the new airline until it was partially privatised.

Caruana spent years trying to hide the €21,500 monthly financial package he gave Curmi while the airline was struggling to stay afloat.

After The Shift revealed Curmi’s remuneration, Caruana told parliament that he was unaware that his chairman was also helping himself to an additional €10,000 a year as a member of the board, a role considered part and parcel of his job.

Meanwhile, as a further sign of continuity between Air Malta and the new airline, Curmi is also using the same consultants he used to prepare the failed restructuring plan originally intended to save the airline from collapse,

Knighthood Global Limited, owned by the former Etihad  CEO James Hogan and COO James Rigney, is being paid over €200,000 a month for its consultancy.

So far Air Malta has refused to list all the payments made to the Abu-Dhabi based company on Curmi’s watch.

                           

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Dave
Dave
2 months ago

I think the choice of April 1st for starting operations on the ‘new’ airline is actually very significant. We’re the fools funding this wild goose-chase.

Rosabelle Pavia
Rosabelle Pavia
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Aptly said….re appointing grossly paid executives who DO NOT DELIVER is the epitome of foolishness indeed!!!

Michael
Michael
2 months ago

I note that Air Malta appears to have given some aircraft a new paint job with the word Air removed. Was this done now to add the cost onto Air Malta’s enormous debt pile and thus not appear on the new airlines books? If so, more skullduggery.

Philip
Philip
2 months ago

New Air Malta is already Doomed mark these words, the people who are going to run the New One were the same people who Bankrupted Air Malta. Please take Note.

Joseph Galea
Joseph Galea
2 months ago

Somehow this government manages to fool everyone including Brussels !!

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