A new fast ferry service between Malta and Sicily will be introduced in the next summer by a Maltese joint-venture, ending a years-long monopoly in fast sea travel between the two destinations. 

Ponte Ferries will operate a catamaran between Grand Harbour and Augusta. The 96-metre vessel can carry 717 passengers and has the flexibility to carry 245 cars, or 15 road freight trailers plus 180 cars.  Trips will be made daily. 

The service is a joint venture between Magro Brothers Investments Ltd and Merill Invest Ltd, owned by Michael and Julian Zammit Tabona, Mario Muscat and Fabio Muscat. 

In a statement on Thursday, Ponte Ferries said the HSC Artemis, registered under the Maltese flag, will enter Grand Harbour in the coming days and undergo internal upgrades to equip it with the latest technologies and amenities, including a club class lounge.

The vessel recently operating in the Canary Islands and has just been refitted by Fred Olsen, a leading ferry operator in Spain that specialises in inter-island routes.

"We believe there is space for another player in this market and we look forward to launching our new, customer-focused approach, matched with a user-friendly ticketing system in the coming months,” a spokesperson said, adding that Ponte Ferries has been in talks with the Valletta Cruise Port and Port of Augusta authorities for at least two years.

Magro Brothers, which had been previously involved in the maritime industry, is looking to re-enter the market through this investment, while the Zammit Tabona brothers have been active in this field through their holdings in Captain Morgan Cruises, iSeeMalta’s hop-on, hop-off concept and the ferry transport service connecting Sliema, Valletta and The Three Cities.

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