Ryanair is believed to be in talks with the government of Malta to set up Malta Air in the country, one more subsidiary for the budget carrier.
Ryanair is expected to shortly announce the establishment of a new subsidiary that will be located in Malta. Negotiations with the Maltese government to invest together are thought to be advanced enough that the announcement is imminent, according to local Maltese newspapers.
The airline currently has five aircraft at Malta International Airport that serve a total of 61 routes to and from the Mediterranean island state.
It is planned that the budget carrier will initially, via Malta Air, increase from five to ten aircraft, and in the longer term more aircraft may be involved.
According to government sources, Malta Air will, at its headquarters in Valletta over a three-year period, employ approximately 350 employees including aircraft maintenance staff in new hangar facilities.
The government noted that Ryanair had in recent years played an increasingly important role as an operator bringing tourists to the island and ensuring accessibility to the outside world, and so concern about becoming dependent on the Irish low-cost airline had prompted the state investment.
“We have primarily wanted to lock Ryanair to the island, as it is the main carrier here, and so we have a certain degree of dependence on the company,” a source admitted to the Times of Malta.
States of matter
Under the proposed deal, the government would apparently have the ability to veto the sale of the new airline to any third party by Ryanair.
Malta has been the owner of flag carrier Air Malta since 1973, which Pakistan International Airlines helped establish, and this company currently operates scheduled flights to and from the island with nine Airbus A320 aircraft. There are flights to a total of 40 destinations in Europe as well as the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Morocco and Tunisia.
According to sources in the aviation industry, it is planned that Air Malta will be a network company and develop Malta International Airport as a hub airport, while Malta Air will provide low-cost tourist traffic to the island.
With the addition of Malta Air, Ryanair will have airlines in four countries. The headquarters and main airline are in Dublin, and, since 2018, the company has owned Poland’s Ryanair Sun and Austria’s Laudamotion, which have changed their names to Buzz and Lauda, respectively.