Air links between Malta and Japan are in the pipeline following talks between Transport Malta and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.

The two sides met in Tokyo earlier this week to discuss the necessary regulatory framework which will permit the establishment of air transport links between both countries.

Transport Malta said in a statement on Saturday it was part of a trade mission to Japan, led by the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Captain Charles Pace, the director general for Civil Aviation, met with representatives of Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau, Japanese airlines and a number of stakeholders within the aviation industry, with the goal to strengthen the relations between the aviation sectors of both countries.

Malta is to continue to build on the progress made in these meetings to establish an air services agreement between the two countries.

Both delegations reached a common understanding on the routes to be operated by the airlines, capacity entitlements, code-sharing, aviation safety, security and other operational arrangements.

The meetings marked an important milestone for Malta in its quest for further international cooperation in the field of aviation.

The air travel industry in Japan supports more than one million jobs and generates more than €70 billion in GDP. Japan is currently undergoing a capacity expansion policy with the aim to accommodate an extra 39,000 international flight movements by the year 2020.

Operators engaged in discussions with Transport Malta's Civil Aviation Directorate to increase their fleet or to establish themselves as new operators within Malta's jurisdiction.

Others sought to expand their areas of operation and increase their portfolio of licences. Last month, TM registered the first operational A380, the largest passenger aircraft in operation, under the Maltese flag.

Malta was developing into an aviation hub with a strong yet flexible legal framework, positioning itself as an attractive jurisdiction for aircraft registration.

New legislation had breathed new life into Malta’s aviation industry and the country has been steadily building up a cluster of aviation services including maintenance, aircraft management, cargo operations, training, asset financing and slowly but surely, elements of the leasing sector.