A new civil aviation policy for the Maltese islands was announced on Wednesday, with a strategy to direct the industry up to 2030.
In a presentation to a National Aviation Conference, former EU commissioner and chair of the aviation advisory committee Karmenu Vella said that the strategy seeks sustainable growth within the industry by striking the right balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions.
The policy has five strategic pillars: capacity building, optimising economic benefits, increasing stakeholder participation, revising regulations and legislation and sustainability, with a total of 24 policy objectives to be achieved by the end of the policy period.
Vella said that the policy seeks to optimise the economic impact and make sure that different governmental policies in the aviation sector complement each other.
The possibility of an intermodal hub in collaboration with the freeport should be explored, while efforts should be made to reduce bureaucracy and monitor and seek to reduce industry costs, he said.
When it comes to improving stakeholder participation, Vella said that passengers are the major stakeholders in the industry and their rights must be safeguarded and promoted. Malta overall must be promoted as an aviation centre for excellence, he said.
The policy will also seek to support business aviation as a successful sector with a high growth potential.
Vella said Malta will update and consolidate legislation to make sure that the aviation industry is in line with the practices of the international organisation it is a part of, particularly when it comes to sustainability.
“Green aviation is no longer a question of ‘if’ but of ‘when’ and sustainability must be tackled at all levels,” Vella said.
“This policy is not an end but a means to an end, with these strategic elements to be turned into an action plan no later than the end of the year.
The 24 policy objectives are expected to see an improvement in human resources and skills in the aviation sector, create a path to work towards the country’s decarbonisation goals while maintaining connectivity and competitiveness as well as develop and support emerging niches such as drones and eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft.
Aviation training hub
Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia said that the strategy would be addressing some of the industry’s more imminent needs, including infrastructure and a strategic plan for Malta to become a training hub for the industry.
The aviation industry, Farrugia said, has seen considerable growth and was fast becoming another crucial pillar in Malta’s economy. The new policy, he continued, was not just ticking off a great milestone but delivering on a promise and providing stakeholders with a high-level strategy that anticipates future development in the sector.
“Our dependency as a country on aviation cannot be understated,” Farrugia said.
“The sector has contributed €600 million to the economy, carries millions of passengers annually and sustains over 5,000 jobs. It is an integral part of the supply chain and other economic activities on the island.”
The five strategic pillars, he said, have been drafted to ensure the upkeep of the aviation sector while addressing the needs of those who depend on it while making the most of untapped potential.