Malta – Mal­dives in the Mediterranean?

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Could Malta be­come the Mal­dives of the Mediterranean for sea­plane op­er­a­tions? This was the re­cur­ring theme dur­ing the 5th edi­tion of the BOV Avi­a­tion Out­look, the avi­a­tion expo and unique plat­form for all play­ers in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try in Malta held at Bank of Val­letta’s Head Of­fice in Santa Ven­era.

Fol­low­ing the demise of Euro­pean Coastal Air­lines in Croa­tia, the sea­plane busi­ness in Europe took a bat­ter­ing with neg­a­tive ef­fect on Nordic Sea­planes too. The BOV Avi­a­tion Out­look con­fer­ence shed light on the in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence gained by the Civil Avi­a­tion Direc­torate in the reg­u­lat­ing and mon­i­tor­ing of a sea­plane op­er­a­tion.

Bank of Val­letta Chief Credit Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer Al­bert Frendo ex­pressed his sat­is­fac­tion that the Bank is host­ing this event for the 5th time. “Over the re­cent years, Malta has wit­nessed growth in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned or­gan­i­sa­tions to set up op­er­a­tions in Malta, in­clud­ing main­te­nance, back of­fice set-ups, re­search and de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion of air­craft com­po­nents,” said Mr Frendo. “Re­cently avi­a­tion in Malta has been un­der fo­cus as part of the Govern­ment’s strat­egy to pro­mote Malta to be­come a ‘one-off desti­na­tion’ in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try,” he ex­plained.

Barry Light­en­ing, who is an ex­pe­ri­enced Head of Flight Op­er­a­tions at a sea­plane com­pany, high­lighted what needs to be done so that the bur­den on any prospec­tive en­trants in this line of busi­ness is al­le­vi­ated. He was fol­lowed by Dr Francesca Galea, an avi­a­tion lawyer. Dr Galea spoke about the fis­cal and le­gal re­quire­ments and how the sea­plane in­dus­try could help boost the al­ready well-es­tab­lished and fast ex­pand­ing ma­rine in­dus­try.

Peter Hermle, CEO at world renowned air­craft man­u­fac­turer Dornier Seaw­ings, ac­com­pa­nied by Ing. Si­mon Schell pre­sented their top sea­plane, the Dornier Seas­tar. In their pre­sen­ta­tion, they delved into how this air­craft can be­come the cen­tre of sea­plane ac­tiv­ity in Malta.

Por­tuguese aero­nau­ti­cal en­tre­pre­neur Paulo Figueiredo used the BOV Avi­a­tion Out­look to launch his novel idea of com­bin­ing sea­planes and tourism. Paulo is an ex-NetJets com­mer­cial di­rec­tor and also a grad­u­ate of the Por­tuguese Air Force. He has now launched the com­pany Float­look & Travel. It has the fi­nan­cial back­ing of a large ho­tel chain in Por­tu­gal. Ini­tially it will be us­ing Cessna Car­a­van am­phib­ians to shut­tle pas­sen­gers around its net­work. How­ever, it is hop­ing to quickly ex­pand into the Mediterranean basin and has tar­geted Malta as its pos­si­ble first base out­side of Por­tu­gal. Paulo Figueiredo has al­ready opened a num­ber of dis­cus­sions with lo­cal en­trepreneurs with the aim of se­cur­ing a lo­cal part­ner with whom he can launch th­ese ser­vices.

Min­is­ter for Tourism Hon. Dr Ed­ward Zam­mit Lewis said that the cre­ation of an in­dige­nous avi­a­tion sec­tor has only been pos­si­ble through the co­or­di­nated im­ple­men­ta­tion of a long-term strat­egy re­quir­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of a cross-sec­tion of stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing the pub­lic sec­tor, lo­cal and for­eign in­vestors, tech­ni­cal innovators, academia, and a very com­pe­tent work­force which is con­stantly ready to learn and adapt.

“The come­back of sea­planes fly­ing over our ports this com­ing De­cem­ber clearly demon­strates Govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to ac­tively sup­port this niche within the avi­a­tion sec­tor while in par­al­lel also fur­ther de­vel­op­ing re­lated ser­vices around it,” said Dr Zam­mit Lewis. “The lo­cal avi­a­tion sec­tor is now firmly on the growth path and is be­com­ing an even more im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to our eco­nomic suc­cess, as Govern­ment con­tin­ues to pur­sue and im­ple­ment its vi­sion for this sec­tor over the next years.”

As is cus­tom­ary, the BOV Avi­a­tion Out­look hon­oured a num­ber of in­dus­try lead­ers, who through their con­tri­bu­tion helped in no small way to put Malta’s avi­a­tion in­dus­try on the world map.

The BOV Avi­a­tor of the Year award was pre­sented by Mr Al­bert Frendo to Cap­tain Norman D’Amato, a veteran flyer with more than 20,000 hours un­der his belt. As Base Cap­tain for Ryanair, he has been in­stru­men­tal in the Ir­ish car­rier’s suc­cess on the is­land and in man­ag­ing Ryanair’s as­tro­nom­i­cal growth as it pre­pares to over­take Air Malta as the largest car­rier at Malta In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Ric­cardo Flask, Se­nior Part­ner BOV Avi­a­tion Out­look pre­sented the BOV Leader of the Year Award to Cap­tain Joseph Agius. Cap­tain Agius is cur­rently in the em­ploy of AirX but has held se­nior po­si­tions with the na­tional car­rier Air Malta and Jet Magic and was one of the in­spec­tors at the Civil Avi­a­tion Direc­torate way back in 2012. Cap­tain Agius has held a num­ber of man­age­ment roles whilst at Air Malta and had also a stint at Az­zur­rAir.

The BOV Life­time Achieve­ment Award was pre­sented by Hon. Min­is­ter Dr Ed­ward Zam­mit Lewis to Charles Stafrace. Dur­ing the 1970s, Charles Stafrace was in­stru­men­tal in set­ting up the Malta Avi­a­tion So­ci­ety. He was also an ac­tive avi­a­tion jour­nal­ist and re­searcher and has au­thored a num­ber of books namely un­der the Warpaint Se­ries. Mr Stafrace was also ap­pointed am­bas­sador to Greece be­fore he re­tired from the diplo­matic corps.

The Min­is­ter de­liv­ered the con­clud­ing speech. He re­marked that he was pos­i­tively im­pressed with what he saw and re­vealed that the govern­ment will make its ut­most to help this nascent in­dus­try take off. The avi­a­tion sec­tor has gone from strength to strength and the govern­ment is de­ter­mined to see this sec­tor flour­ish and gain a more cen­tral role in Malta’s eco­nomic growth.

The BOV Avi­a­tion Out­look team is led by se­nior part­ners Ric­cardo Flask, Mar­vic Bugeja, Joanne Calleja and Cap­tain Sin­clair Portelli who worked tire­lessly to at­tract top notch speak­ers to this year’s event.

Mrs Agius on be­half of Joe Agius

Cap­tain Norman D Amato Award

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