The leading advocate for an air link between Malta and Gozo, the Gozo Tourism Association (GTA), has welcomed that the proposed link will allow multiple operators, by operating on the same basis as the Malta fast ferry.
Speaking to BusinessNow.mt after Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri on Monday revealed the existing Gozo heliport will be extended to let its airstrip handle small aircraft, GTA CEO Joe Muscat provided a positive outlook on the development.
The GTA is “confident” that the project will be implemented in the “very near future,” he said.
He explained that as an association, the organisation is pleased to note that the political will to introduce the project exists, added that based on available information, the plan seems “reliable, cost effective and consistent.”
Additionally, he positively observed that the necessary infrastructural improvements for the project “can be carried out in a relatively short time incorporating existing infrastructure.”
He stated that because the GTA believes that the success of a tourism destination depends on its connectivity, it has been advocating for the link for several years, and stated that, with the welcome introduction of the fast ferry, it is “high time” that the next hurdle, is surmounted.
During the last 25 years, the CEO reflected, “a lot has been done regarding the inter island connectivity” of Malta and Gozo, including most recently the building of three brand new vessels and the introduction of terminals in Mgarr and Cirkewwa, followed by the introduction of a fourth ferry and the implementing of a fast ferry service.
These, he said, were “massive steps” in fostering connectivity, but that they enhanced only the sea link, and that the air link is now needed.
“We believe the time for studies is now over, and implementation is the next step for the air link,” he added, saying it would facilitate “in a big way the transfer of foreign tourists travelling in and out of Gozo.”
A key detail that the Government has released on the plan is that it will operate on the same model as the fast ferry service does.
This, Mr Muscat stated, means there will be more than one air service provider operating a schedule, meaning there will be the opportunity to have a scheduling frequency and seat capacity to satisfy requirements for transfers between the islands.
The link, he said, will not only help tourists travel between the islands, but will also meet the needs of the Gozitan community traveling abroad.
“The GTA is certain that this air link will be providing another means of connectivity, while also providing new job opportunities that up to now Gozo never attracted,” he concluded.
Minister Camilleri revealed details of the plan during a Budget debate on Monday, in which he insisted that the airstrip could be extended within existing limits and that therefore no agricultural land would be taken up.
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