Ryanair has agreed to purchase start-up airline Malta Air, opening up the potential for the carrier to grow its presence in the country.
Through the acquisition, Ryanair plans to move its six Malta-based Boeing 737 aircraft onto the Maltese register and switch 200 crew based in the country to local contracts paying in local currency.
Its current Maltese fleet will be rebranded in Malta Air’s colours for the summer 2020 season.
In addition, aircraft based in France, Italy and Germany will be switched to the Maltese Air Operator Certificate (Air operator's certificate is granted by a country's aviation authority permitting the airline to fly commercially), which Ryanair says will allow those crews to pay income taxes locally instead of in Ireland, where the airline currently holds its Air operator's certificate is granted by a country's aviation authority permitting the airline to fly commercially – something that has caused some trouble for the group in the past.
The airline already serves around 3 million customers a year to and from the country, and it says the investment in Malta Air will give it access to North African markets. It plans to grow its Maltese fleet to ten aircraft within three years.
CEO Michael O’Leary said: “Malta Air will proudly fly the Maltese name and flag to over 60 destinations across Europe and North Africa as we look to grow our Maltese-based fleet, routes, traffic and jobs over the next three years.”
Malta’s minister for tourism, Konrad Mizzi, said: “The relationship between Ryanair and Malta has evolved into a successful collaboration. We welcome Ryanair’s commitment to operate and grow a fully fledged Malta-based airline, which will contribute in a large way to the country’s development.”
The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the month. It comes after Ryanair finished its purchase of Lauda in Austria and rebranded its Polish tour and charter airline to Buzz.