Tourism Minister does not say whether Alitalia indicated to Air Malta that it wants out of deal
Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said that Air Malta negotiations are ongoing but, when asked, did not say whether Alitalia has indicated the possibility that it might want to back out of the Air Malta deal.
Asked by The Malta Independent whether any Maltese official had received indications Alitalia wanted to pull out of the deal, the minister said: “I will try and answer you within the limits of commercial confidentiality, as I am tied to certain confidentiality as a member of government. From the other side I respect the right to information. Negotiations are ongoing. We are trying to see what kind of deal can occur; that is a good deal for Air Malta where Alitalia and Etihad are involved. Alitalia are partners of Etihad Airways. We are seeing what best partnership can be found, (one) that respects the circumstances and needs of the Maltese airline.
“We have one airline, and it is important for tourism and is the only national airline. We are trying to find the best deal. From the beginning, I said we will agree where it makes sense for us, and go for the best deal. We are not making a deal at all costs.”
He said that he will continue keeping the public informed, “as I have done after the Memorandum of Understanding was signed and as I have through releasing statements. We have nothing to hide when it comes to Air Malta.”
Recently, Il Giornale reported that the deal between Italian airline Alitalia and Air Malta is off. The article said that although the news has not yet been made official, Alitalia will not be acquiring 49% of the Maltese national airline’s shares.
In a statement later, the government said it took note of “the various reports published in the media today and of the fact that none of these quoted official sources.” Government said that to the contrary, talks are still ongoing. Air Malta chairperson Maria Micallef also confirmed this to The Malta Independent when interviewed in London last week.
The PN have also been pressuring government after many reports about the Alitalia deal, as well as the problems with unions faced over summer. The PN believes that the best choice for a sustainable future for Air Malta is for the government to attract local investment. This would also mean, the PN said, that the government would retain control over strategic decisions.