There are no plans for Malta MedAir to become a fully-fledged airline, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said on Saturday.

Earlier this week, Times of Malta reported how Air Malta staff was concerned that MedAir would be taking over certain operations from Air Malta while shrinking the national airline’s business.

A move to launch a new helicopter service between Malta and Gozo accentuated concerns, with Air Malta staff citing it as a concrete example of how MedAir, run by former Malta Tourism Authority CEO Paul Bugeja, could threaten the national airline.

Asked about the issue on Saturday, Dr Mizzi said there were no plans for the new company to offer services in direct competition with Air Malta. 

He confirmed that MedAir would be providing a Malta-Gozo helicopter service but insisted the only reason the company was recruiting technical staff was because it needed to acquire certification required for its operations to be code-shared.

A code-share agreement is a common aviation agreement whereby airlines agree to sell each other's tickets on some routes.

Air Malta was "demanding" that MedAir obtain IOSA (IATA operational safety audit) accreditation, he said. Part of the requirement for it to obtain the accreditation was the recruitment of more technical staff, Dr Mizzi added.

Dr Mizzi was speaking on the fringes of the airline's annual general meeting where it announced a profit for the first time in almost two decades.

Enemed bills 'commercially sensitive'

Asked to clarify the amount Air Malta owed Enemed in unsettled fuel bills, the airline's chairman Charles Mangion said the agreement with Enemed was "being addressed fully".

Dr Mangion refused to clarify the amount of unsettled fuel bills, saying details were commercially sensitive.

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