A company offering helicopter commercial flight operations and maintenance services in Malta plans to offer job opportunities to students specialising in helicopter engineering, maintenance, and operations, economy ministry Silvio Schembri said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at the premises of Gulf Med Aviation Services at Safi, where he said that further talks shall be pursued for MCAST and University of Malta to offer engineering students additional specialised training units that focus on helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.
Schembri said that despite a challenging scenario due to the COVID-19 pandemic, "the time is ripe" to map out a holistic approach for the aviation industry, "an approach which will enable it to get back on its feet".
“Now is the time for us to re-skill, re-adapt and find ways to boost the aviation industry so that we strive once the situation starts regaining ground," he said.
The minister welcomed Gulf Med’s plans to further invest in training, equipment, and staff to meet future challenges, particularly its efforts to establish an aircraft maintenance training organisation in Malta.
The government’s vision for the aviation industry, he said, included a holistic, long-term airport strategy plan.
This includes a new cargo handling and freight facility, a general aviation terminal that caters to the needs of VIPs and executive jets, an engine run-up test area for the aircraft servicing industry, as well as a separate heliport unaffected by the movement of other aircraft.
Schembri said that works with regard to the investment of more than €5 million to upgrade one of the taxiways at Malta International Airport is under way.
“Malta’s position is key in the aviation sector, and our size motivates us further to maintain our drive, so that we will come out of this storm stronger than before,” he said.
Upon completion, the taxiway will accommodate wide-bodied aircraft, enabling the MRO facilities in this area to attract a new range of clients once business returned to normal.
Gulf Med Aviation Services CEO Emma Finlay-Broadbelt said the aviation industry as a whole has suffered substantially in the past months.
“We are determined to make it through the new normal. The assistance extended to us by the authorities has been consistently positive at every level, and we are truly grateful to have these support structures around us,” she said.
From their base in Malta, Gulf Med Aviation Services currently provides maintenance on Leonardo Helicopters AW189, AW139 models, as well as Airbus Helicopters EC135 and Bell Helicopters Textron B412.
The company was recently contracted for the heavy maintenance of the two Cyprus police AW139 helicopters.
The Malta base provides maintenance and airport assistance to AW189 flights operating to and from offshore Libya, which Gulf Med Aviation Services will be operating directly in the near future.