Malta, a member of the European Union, is a Southern European island country in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is strategically located between Europe and North Africa.
Lying 80 km south of Italy and 280 km east of Tunisia, this country covers just over 316 km2 with a population of just under 450,000, making it one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries.
The capital, Valletta, is the smallest national capital in the European Union.
Malta’s location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British, have ruled the islands.
Being an island, air transport connectivity is crucial.
Malta’s beautiful beaches and resorts, coupled with mild winters, make it a desirable destination and consequently a vibrant business aviation market has developed.
Moreover, this country is a very attractive jurisdiction for aircraft registration. Firstly, it is the first European Member State to ratify the Cape Town Convention and Aircraft Protocol for the registration of international interests on aircraft, making it easier to obtain financing.
Secondly, Malta has a flexible taxation regime with regard to the acquisition of private jets, allowing for big savings on VAT when registered in the country. And thirdly, Malta’s corporate tax is very reasonable for non-resident investors, reducing to just 5 percent of the net annual income.
Additionally, the cost of living in Malta is much lower than the average European country, making it economically feasible to hire staff in order to establish operations there.
In this article we will review some of the main aspects of operating your business aircraft to Malta.
The Duty Management Office of the Civil Aviation Directorate of Malta is the authority responsible for the processing and granting of overflight and landing clearances to operate to Malta.
While European Community air carriers and operators are entitled to operate within the European Community member states without the need for approval (only prior notification is required), flights operated by non-community air carriers/operators require prior approval, which can be applied directly by aircraft operators, handling agents or third-party flight support providers.
Besides aircraft and flight information and schedule, certificate of airworthiness and insurance – plus cargo and passengers’ declarations – are required in order for the permit to be processed.
Malta currently has just one international airport, which is Malta International Airport (ICAO: LMML / IATA: MLA), located in the Luqa area. There is no general aviation terminal and no dedicated business aviation airport in Malta. The airport currently only has one terminal, which is the commercial terminal used for both commercial travelers and business aviation travelers.
All aircraft at Malta’s airport park in remote positions, as there are no aerobridges in the terminal. The airport can accommodate any type of aircraft, with the only exception being the AN225. With good parking places, Malta airport is often used to reposition aircraft when there is not enough parking available in the airports of southern Italy.
ENEMED (Previously ENEMALTA) is the only aviation fuel supplier in Malta.
Contrary to other European countries, Malta does not apply VAT to aviation fuel, for both commercial AOC holder operators, and the same goes for private flights as well.
Despite the fact that Malta imports all of its oil requirements, there is no fuel shortage experienced in the country. However, due to the fact that only one fuel supplier exists in the airport, and with the limited number of fuel trucks available, the preference in refueling is given to commercial schedule flights, so refueling private jets is sometimes delayed.
The fuel price does not change as frequently as it does in other parts of the world, usually remaining stable for longer periods of time.
The main ground handlers are Air Malta and AviaServe (previously Globe Ground).
There is no real FBO as in other main European capitals. However, there is a VIP lounge in the airport, and can be used by business travelers for payment of an extra fee of around 180 Euros.
Some business aviation handlers provide over-wing supervision services in Malta: DC Aviation Malta, Executive Aviation and Medavia. DC Aviation Malta has a dispatch office in the land side of the airport, and another office on the ramp in the airside of the airport for crew rest. Executive Handling also has an office on the ramp. Additionally, they both have their own limousine cars on the ramp.
Cars are driven on the left, so driving is not recommended if you’re coming from a country that drives on the right (It happened to me as I rented a car and returned it after just 15 minutes!).
Although the island is small, rush-hour traffic is very heavy, and it can take more than an hour for a drive that should otherwise take less than 15 minutes.
While the quality of local taxis in the airport is good, and drivers generally speak acceptable English, it’s better to have your chauffeured transportation previously arranged through your international trip planning or transportation providers, or local ground handler, as the taxi queue in the airport may take a fairly long time.
Due to the touristic economy of Malta, good quality hotels are available in the country. Many international hotel chains have properties in Malta, such as Hilton, Intercontinental, the Westin, Radisson Blu and Le Meridien, with room rates per night ranging from 150 to 250 Euros.
The Corinthia Maltese hotel group also have some good hotels in the island: Corinthia St. George and Corinthia Marina in the St. Julian area two good hotels to stay in, with room rates per night ranging from 120 to 140 Euros per room per night for bed and breakfast, including tax.
The Maltese government has been very active in attracting foreign investment to the country over the past years, and this is reflected in a positive result on the Maltese economy, which didn’t suffer from the economic crisis like the rest of Southern Europe. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Europe as well.
The government of Malta has introduced the Individual Investor Programme, which is a citizenship by investment program allowing reputable applicants who can share their talent, expertise and business connections to acquire Maltese citizenship, after meeting certain conditions and after a thorough due diligence process.
All the above factors lead to increasing business aviation operations movement towards Malta.