Etihad Airways is expected to have a significant stake in Air Malta, the Times of Malta is informed.
Negotiations, being conducted on the Maltese side by airline chairman Maria Micallef and senior officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, are known to almost have been wrapped up and a formal announcement could be made in the coming days, according to civil aviation industry sources.
“The deal is almost done, and only minor details have to be ironed out before the government makes a public statement,” the sources said.
“Although Etihad Airways will be a minor shareholder, it will be investing substantial amounts in equity, which will require a complete change in the way Air Malta operates,” the sources noted.
The government has declared on various occasions that it will retain the majority shareholding in Air Malta. However, the deal is expected to be such that the national airline of the United Arab Emirates will have a significant say in the management of the carrier and its day-to-day operations.
Under EU rules, Etihad can only acquire up to 49.9 per cent of Air Malta’s shareholding if the Maltese airline is to continue operating under a European licence.