An international aviation organisation that has just named Air Malta 2018 ‘Turnaround airline of the year’ will be holding its top annual event here next year, sponsored by the national air carrier and the Tourism Ministry.

The Sydney-based Capa – Centre for Aviation, considered to be one of the world’s most trusted sources of market intelligence for the aviation and travel industry, declares on its website that its awards “are not driven by customer surveys or sponsorships”.

However, civil aviation industry sources told the Times of Malta it was too much of a coincidence that the award to Air Malta should be announced almost concurrently with Malta’s sponsorship of the organisation’s annual World Aviation Outlook Summit and Awards for Excellence.

The sources also noted that they could not understand on which criteria had Capa declared Air Malta “Turnaround airline of the year”.

In a statement announcing the award, Air Malta said Capa had selected the Maltese airline “for its successful transformation, from a heavy loss-making entity into a break-even result for fiscal year ended March 2018”.

The organisation was asked for the source of the financial data on which it had based its decision given that the airline had not yet published its audited accounts for the year in question. No replies were forthcoming at the time of writing.

Similarly, no replies on the matter were forthcoming from the Tourism Ministry, which is politically responsible for Air Malta. A spokesman also failed to reply when asked on the value of the sponsorship for the Capa event in Malta.

The latest available Air Malta official financial results are for the year ended March 2017, when the company posted a loss of €4 million despite its five-year restructuring plan having envisaged a return to the black.

Although the airline is yet to call its annual general meeting to present its accounts for the year ending March 2018, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi is on record saying Air Malta had broken even.

Since being put in charge of the airline in June 2017, Dr Mizzi reversed a number of decisions made by his predecessor, Edward Zammit Lewis, including increasing routes and making more use of the aircraft.

The company has also shed hundreds of ground handling staff, transferring their costs on to a new government entity set up to service the airline.

Questions to CAPA

1. Who supplied the financial information to Capa about Air Malta and the financial year ending March 2018?

2. Was Capa aware that no accounts were published by Air Malta for the year ending March 2018?

3. What is the value of sponsorship Capa is receiving from the Maltese government/ Tourism Ministry and Air Malta to host its summit in Malta in 2019?


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