UPDATED: Air Malta’s nameless replacement misses first milestone, doesn’t take bookings

Government had announced new airline would take bookings from 1 December.

 

Updated to include KM Malta Airlines statement following The Shift’s publication of this article.
The new national airline that will replace Air Malta in April 2024 has missed its first milestone as customers cannot book travel tickets despite government assurances that they would be able to do so from 1 December.

Not only are customers unable to book tickets from the company behind the new airline, KM Malta Airlines Plc, but the new national carrier still lacks a name and a website.

The Shift revealed government plans for Air Malta’s closure last year. After months of denials, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana and Prime Minister Robert Abela finally confirmed its closure in October.

They announced a new airline will start operating from April next year.

The transition is set to cost at least €400 million.

In a press conference announcing the government’s plans for a “seamless” transition to the new airline, Abela and Caruana claimed customers could book tickets with the new company starting 1 December.

Excerpts from an FAQ page posted to the Air Malta website last month note that customers can buy tickets from the new airline starting at the beginning of December.

The opening of the new airline’s booking system was to follow an “expedited” process whereby Air Malta’s name and branding would be acquired through a competitive tendering process.

Abela had assured conference attendees that the government would “make sure” the new airline would win that tender. The status of this process is currently unknown.

There has also been no announcement from the authorities regarding the delay in launching bookings for the new airline.

The scheme to retain the Air Malta branding is possible since, in 2018, it was sold off to another government company, IP Holding Ltd. The sale was part of a creative accounting exercise by former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, intended to post profits for the beleaguered airline after years of consistent losses.

Following a blunder last month whereby Air Malta’s website allowed travel bookings past its closing date, the site no longer provides for the purchase of tickets for either the old Air Malta or its nameless replacement.

The Shift has reported how the European Commission opposed the new airline’s retention of the branding as the old airline’s assets were prohibited from being directly transferred. The limitations were raised due to a need for economic discontinuity between the two companies so that EU state aid rules were not breached.

An airline consulting company based in the United Arab Emirates, Knighthood Global Ltd. (KGL), is being paid €200,000 monthly for the transition.

The Shift revealed how KGL, led by CEO James Hogan and CFO James Rigney, was the same company that failed to save Air Malta from closing down more than a year ago.

Hogan and Rigney are currently facing charges of financial mismanagement in Italy in connection with Alitalia’s closure.

Last week, Air Malta’s chairman, David Curmi, being paid €21,500 a month, was replaced by university professor Philip Von Brockdorff.

The cosmetic move is designed to allow Curmi to be appointed head of the replacement airline as of 1 April 2024.

The retention of Air Malta’s senior-level staff has raised questions of government collusion and also why those involved in the failure of Air Malta are being charged with overseeing the new agency.

Following The Shift’s publication of this article, KM Malta Airlines released a statement to the Times of Malta saying the unnamed airline was granted clearance by Transport Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate and will be taking bookings from Monday 4 December. The airline does not yet have an online presence of any sort, save for a barren Facebook page.

                           

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6 Comments
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Jean Pierre Farrugia
Jean Pierre Farrugia
3 months ago

Second missed milestone. As with cancellations due to Covid previously, transactions for payments meant to be refunded by November 7 are still pending – 3 weeks and counting.

viv
viv
2 months ago

More taxpayer monies to the pockets of the mafia. Thank you The Shift for keeping the criminals on the run.

Aggie
Aggie
2 months ago

It shouldn’t even exist.
If a company owes money it sells its assets, oh sorry forgot whwe I was .. Malta just steals from the tax payers..

wenzu
wenzu
2 months ago

Get rid of one lame duck- and replace it with another!

Gaetano Pace
Gaetano Pace
2 months ago

Tfal ifallu li skola il ġenituri jittellgħu il qorti u jeħlu penali.
Robert falla pajjiż, falla l Air Malta, falla f li sptar t Għawdex, falla filli jħammeġ li raġel ta’ Giovanna, falla minn li jagħmel inkjesti, falla milli investigazzjonijiet kriminali, falla mid dixxiplina, falla f kollox u kull ma miss b idejħ.
Ta dan kollu tħallas b idejħ. U seraqna 400000000 ewro .

Peter Mifsud
Peter Mifsud
2 months ago

This is so bad!!! To my mind it reeks of amateurism and collusion. If anybody should NOT have been involved in the transition I would have thought the CEO & CFO of KGL would have been prime candidates for exclusion!! And what about passengers like me who had a flight booked for a business event in Germany and was refunded but now cannot secure a fresh cooking!! Why didn’t AirMalta ensure that its bookings would be honored if the destination was available?? Why this mess?? A national airline is a necessity for an island nation like ours. Can whomever is in charge PLEASE WAKE UP!!

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