Earlier on Thursday (today), Malta International Airport (MIA) successfully completed the resurfacing of Runway 05-23, the airport’s 2.4 kilometres-long secondary runway.
The runway, originally constructed as an air force base when Malta was under British rule, was closed for resurfacing back in October, yet it has now reopened for general aviation. It is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023, with minor infrastructural works due to take place in early January.
Runway 05-23 is generally limited to use by general aviation aircraft and aircraft training institutions, however, the runway also carries nine per cent of the airport’s commercial movements. Apart from providing the airport with additional operational flexibility, the resurfacing of this runway was critical to ensure that rehabilitation works could be undertaken on the primary runway, Runway 13-31, over the coming years.
Commenting on the milestone, MIA CEO Alan Borg said: “We set the ball rolling on this €14 million project in the first week of October and saw the project through to completion in under three months.”
He remarked that this rehabilitation project formed part of MIA’s €250 million capital investment programme for the period covering 2023 until 2028, aimed at delivering “significant upgrades” with the intention of “improving the safety and efficiency of airport operations while developing the airport further”.
Charles Pace, director general for civil aviation at Transport Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate, said that he is pleased to see that the timelines for the project have been kept, and that restrictions imposed on the general aviation community will be lifted.
“I acknowledge that the restrictions were tough on the general aviation community, but the works were necessary, and it was difficult to find the right balance at what has become a very busy airport all year round,” Captain Pace added.
Due to the scale of the infrastructural works required, the phasing of the project was meticulously planned, with the excavation, build-up and reconstruction of sections of the runway taking place at all hours to ensure that the programme of works was completed as quickly yet safely as possible.
The project involved the application of around 35,000 tonnes of special asphalt, along with the replacement of approximately 3,000 square metres of damaged concrete sections. The latter have been replaced with durable concrete blocks to bolster the structural integrity of the runway. The project also included the installation of 50 kilometres of cable ducts along the sides of the runway, together with 35 kilometres of cables. 100 new manholes were also introduced to facilitate seamless cable routing.
Over 2.4 kilometres of stormwater pipework to mitigate the risk of water accumulation on the runway was installed. Paint markings, covering 6,500 square metres were applied, while state-of-the-art lighting control systems to complement the new 300 light fittings were also installed.
Mr Borg extended his gratitude to the 400-strong team involved in the project, saying: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the airport team for working against the clock to carry this complex project over the finish line before the end of the year.”
He also expressed thanks to MIA’s various stakeholders, including the Malta Air Traffic Control Services, the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure, and Capital Projects, Transport Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate, as well as MIA’s contractors and sub-contractors, for their “cooperation throughout the duration for the duration of the project, and for the pivotal role they played in the successful rehabilitation of Runway 05-23”.
The airline also plans to introduce daily flights between Rome Fiumicino and Malta by June
The appeal process delayed the project by 122 days
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri notes that education and awareness are the best tools to combat such threats