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Sustainable and uninterrupted air connectivity is of “paramount strategic importance” for Malta, to cater for both business and social exigencies, such as emergency flights related to healthcare and the just-in-time provision of critical medicines, according to The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

Reacting to Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s presentation of the projections for the new airline that will take Air Malta’s place as the national flag carrier, The Malta Chamber underscored the “vital strategic importance” of operating a national airline efficiently, to “ensure its viability over the long-term after decades of unsustainable practices stemming out of political interference.”

“These practices have cost the country millions and it is hoped that lessons have been learnt once and for all,” it said, insisting that these lessons must also be carried over to other state-owned entities that may be “falling prey to similar extravagances”.

“Government should not wait to be in a similar predicament with respect to other state-owned entities before taking a serious look at governance, operational efficiency and recruitment practices in other entities.”

While acknowledging the “unique challenges related to the airline’s size and its markets, emanating from Malta’s peripherality to the European continent,” The Malta Chamber urged Government to honour its commitment to “swiftly turn around the present situation” to “restore a firmer standing with the European Commission.”

“This requires the eradication of unsustainable operational practices which costed this country dearly, and a periodic review of routes and frequencies to strike a balance between meeting interests of the general public and the business community, and ensuring long-term viability of the new airline.”

It therefore called on all stakeholders, including politicians and representatives of both workers and the business community, to “work together to ensure that our new national airline will really break away from past practices and be sustainable in the long-term, as is in the national interest.”

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