New national airline fails to inherit ‘Air Malta’ name despite government pledge

Malta’s new national airline, KM Malta Airlines, has failed to adopt the ‘Air Malta’ name and branding despite government promises it would do so by its first flight.

Prime Minister Robert Abela and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana pledged that the new airline would secure the name through a public procurement process that has yet to be launched.

The ‘Air Malta’ name and branding were purchased through taxpayer funds in 2019, in what was effectively a taxpayer-funded cash injection into the airline.

They were being leased from the government by the Air Malta plc company until the airline’s final flight last Saturday.

Despite promises, KM Malta Airlines has not adopted the Air Malta name. Planes transferred between the two airlines had livery modified to omit Air Malta-specific branding.

The prime minister and the finance minister had promised the public the ‘Air Malta’ name would be retained.

They claimed the name, branding and rights to its use would be awarded through a “transparent, public, and non-discriminatory” tendering process.

Abela had assured journalists that the government would “make sure” the new airline would secure the brand ahead of its first flight through an expedited process.

According to The Shift’s research, no such request for tenders has been made, much less awarded.

The ‘Air Malta’ name and branding are currently held by IP Holding Ltd, a government-owned company. The brand was ‘purchased’ through €21 million in taxpayer funds, effectively serving as a much-needed financial injection for the beleaguered airline.

IP Holding, registered in 2019, currently lists former Air Malta chairman Charles Mangion and Ronald Mizzi as its directors.

In a similar move, Air Malta also sold expensive landing slots at Heathrow and Gatwick airports in 2018 and 2019 to Malta Air Travel Limited, another government company.

The move allowed disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi to boast that Air Malta had turned a profit for the first time in 20 years.

The government was forced to create a new airline following the European Commission’s refusal to allow €290 million in state aid for Air Malta.

The commission has also opposed the new airline’s retention of the branding. It insisted on the need for “economic discontinuity” between the two airlines.

Regardless, the government has transferred Air Malta’s chairman and top management to the new company, as well as retaining expensive Abu Dhabi-based consultants.

It operates from the same Skyparks premises and has used Air Malta’s closing months to train pilots ahead of their transfer to the new airline.

The government has also reached out-of-court settlements with pilots ahead of their first flights with the new company.

Questions sent to Prime Minister Abela and Finance Minister Caruana over the last months were left unanswered.

This investigation was supported by The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

                           

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Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
22 days ago

What is NEW with the NEW airline?

KLAUS
KLAUS
22 days ago

Seems Robber Abela is just a

Big mouth liar.

Paul Borg
Paul Borg
22 days ago

A liar is a liar even when he is not caught lying. But this one has been caught lying, so he is now a liar, bil-pedigree as we say in Maltese.
Bobby, anyone!

Mick
Mick
22 days ago

Wow , what a cluster, Air Malta management, Air Malta buildings, Air Malta aircrew, Air Malta unions, a recipe for total failure. DOOM airlines might be more appropriate. Abela needs another fairy tale to get him out of the present pile of shit, not going to happen.

Raymond Gatt
Raymond Gatt
22 days ago

No surprises there!

Hopeless
Hopeless
22 days ago

Of course journalists’ questions remain unanswered. Government ministers are busy running around the playing field at Wied Blandun (see The Times today)

D M Briffa
D M Briffa
21 days ago

Thank you, The Shift. Excellent analysis. It’s smoke and mirrors combined with a large splash of snake oil. What’s new? I’m tired of the charade. Time for a new government.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
21 days ago

KM Malta Airlines is a low cost airline, nothing more, nothing less.

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