The aviation sector could soon become one of Malta’s leading industries thanks to new policies that would help bolster foreign investment, Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella said yesterday.

“We believe that, with the right incentives, aviation could rival the financial services industry and make the island a hub for international aviation services,” Mr Vella said while speaking inside the Armed Forces of Malta’s Air Wing’s helicopter hangar.

Last week, the minister unveiled plans for a new national aviation policy to help place the island as a service leader in the international market. The policy is being drafted by the Consultative Aviation Advisory Committee, set up a few months after the new Administration took office. It is expected to be finalised in the coming months.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the AirX Malta International Air Show later this month, AirX chairman John Matthews said the local industry had a lot of potential.

“There has been talk about the possibilities for growth that exist but action is what is needed. We are glad to see that this is now coming to fruition,” he said.

His company has just relocated its main office to Malta and is in the process of moving its subsidiaries to the island too.

Mr Matthews announced that the company, which tailors to several top celebrities and members of the royal family, was in the process of registering half of its aircraft in Malta. It would also introduce the island’s first piloting internship scheme.

“Our commitment to the industry is clear and we are glad to see that the Government is also committing itself. This is a very exciting time for Malta’s aviation history,” he said.

The AirX Malta International Air Show will be held despite several other international events being cancelled this year.

Malta Aviation Society president Joe Ciliberti said the cancellations were the result of aviation teams declining invitations.

“In the United States, the number of air shows has been halved. Just last week an event in Barcelona was cancelled because of lack of funds and planes. However, our air show will go ahead as planned,” he said.

Mr Ciliberti explained that faced with tighter financial budgets, aviation teams saw air shows as an unnecessary expense. Yet, the upcoming Malta air show, the 21st edition, would include displays by the Red Arrows, RAF and Nato planes as well as an Italian pyrotechnic air troupe, to name just a few.

The event will be held on September 28 and 29 at Malta International Airport’s Park 4.

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