Air Malta is eyeing the introduction of a service to Accra, Ghana, next year as part of a growth process which will possibly be followed by a service to Mumbai, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi told Parliament on Monday.

The minister was replying to a range of questions on Air Malta and the disused Selmun Palace Hotel, which the airline once operated.

Replying to questions by Nationalist MP Robert Cutajar, the minister said the former Selmun Palace Hotel is government-owned and the government intends to issue a request for proposals for the development of a new hotel in Selmun.

Talks are being held with the Planning Authority on the form which such a hotel may take.

The Cabinet has decided that while a request for proposals will be issued for a new hotel, no residential development will be allowed.

He said the adjoining historic Selmun Palace is being kept in a good state of maintenance and being used for film-shooting. Two productions by Viacom will be filmed next month.

Enemed dues

Asked by Mr Cutajar and Nationalist MP Ryan Callus whether it was true that Air Malta owed Enemed some €20 million for fuel, the minister said the debts were not as high and the airline was observing its credit terms. Fuel was paid within 90 days and a payment was made last week.

Replying to questions by Labour MPs Rosianne Cutajar and Alex Muscat, the minister spoke on how Air Malta, for the first time, had made an operational profit of €1.4m. The vision, he said, was to develop a Malta hub where Air Malta operated in conjunction with other airlines for a wide range of connections from New York to Mumbai.

He wanted to see Air Malta serving routes to all European, North African and countries.

As from next year he would like to see Air Malta developing a route from Accra, Ghana, followed by a service to Mumbai using new Airbus A321 long-range aircraft.  

Dr Mizzi also told Ms Cutajar that studies were being made about extending Pinto Wharf in Grand Harbour so that it could better handle the berthing of cruise ships.