Having been a colony of Great Britain for 164 years (1800-1964), and then continued to serve as a base for Britain’s Armed Forces for a further 15 years, Malta was introduced to the world of aviation from a very early start.
From the construction of the first airfield to the ravages of World War Two, the build up for the Suez canal, through four hi-jacks, and on to today’s Malta International Air show, Malta has seen almost all the uses an aircraft can be put to.
The Malta Department of Civil Aviation records show that when the Maltese aircraft register was opened in 1969 introducing the Maltese register prefix 9H, the first aeroplane to be registered, 9H-AAA was in fact a Cessna 172. The next two aircraft on the register were also general aviation aircraft, as were many others that followed. The aircraft were largely owned and operated by Maltese general aviation pilots.
Today, the local general aviation fleet includes a wider variety of aircraft types and categories ranging from microlights to single engine private planes and public category aircraft available for rental. A small fleet of training aircraft is operated by two flying schools.
Malta has an excellent climate, is strategically located at the centre of the Mediterranean and has one of the last 24 hour airports. It has one of the longest runways in Europe with practically no slots issues. Local business and the Maltese government are only now starting to fathom that there could be a great potential for managing and operating business aviation aircraft from Malta, offering very competitive licencing fees, in an English speaking country in an EASA/JAA environment. This combined with excellent tax structures for foreign investors, whereby, although corporate tax is fixed at 35%, foreign shareholders are refunded 30% within 14 days.
Strictly speaking an owner who is operating his aircraft for his own use, will not require an AOC, as the aircraft will be operated in the private category, however this scenario can be very restrictive, as it is unclear whether employees of the owner and sub-contractors can legally use the aircraft, as this could be deemed that there is gain and hence an AOC might required.
Further more if the aircraft is given under management to a third party company, even if the aircraft is not available for third party charter, the third party company managing the aircraft must obtain an AOC.
Simply put, an aircraft can be operated in the private category without an AOC, however to obtain an AOC, the company must also have an ASL. The applications for the AOC and ASL, should be submitted together to the Director of Maltese Civil Aviation.
In order to apply for an AOC, a company must demonstrate ownership of an aircraft, or a lease agreement for an aircraft.
An aircraft need not be registered to be operated by a Maltese AOC, however the registered aircraft must have a European Union and JAA country registration. The reverse is also through, ie a Maltese registered aircraft can be operated on a European Union and JAA AOC, however both of these scenarios are not preferred by the Maltese Department of Civil Aviation.
Similar procedures are required by the company applying for an AOC as for company applying for an ASL.
The process for obtaining an AOC, ASL and registration of aircraft should take from three to six months, subject to demonstrating to the Maltese Department of Civil Aviation full compliance to JAR OPS 1.
As per statistics published in 2006, Malta had the 10th cheapest labour cost in the private sector from all European Union Countries. At just under 10 Euro per hour, Malta is cheaper than Portugal, Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece and Spain. More importantly the rate of salary increase was the second lowest from the 10 countries with the cheapest labour cost, at under 3.5%.
That said, aviation being a very specialized industry, salaries in this sector are higher than the average, and with big players, such as Air Malta, Lufthansa Technik, and Servisair Globe Ground already established in Malta, there is already a healthy pool of aviation trained personnel, in all the major areas, such as Flight and Ground Operations as well as with Technical staff. Malta has two flight schools and the Local Government has assisted Lufthansa Technik amongst other ways by means of a collaboration between The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, and Lufthansa for the training and development of their local employees.
A company operating a Challenger 605 and a Lear 60 XR will pay the authority just over 36,000.00 Euros for the first issue of an AOC and then barely over 16,000.00 Euros per annum for renewal fees. Hardly forbidding charges. More importantly an aircraft registration and/or AOC should be obtained within 90 days.
This is achievable in Malta, as the Department of Civil Aviation is still relatively young and can give interested parties undivided attention. Assuming the owners/operator provide all the necessary information and documents.
Other costs involved would be the setting up a company structure to own the aircraft and or apply for the Air Operating Certificate. These costs are estimated to be in the region of 2,000 to 5,000 Euros per annum, depending on the level of actual presence of the company on the island.
So where would one start? Sierra Aviation was established in 2002 as a business aviation service company. As the only dedicated business aviation company in Malta, Sierra Aviation’s main line of business is namely;
o Aircraft Charter Brokers
o Aircraft Handling at Malta International Airport
o Aircraft Sales and Leasing
o Aviation Consultancy
o Aircraft Management
Sierra Aviation can provide a number of services to owners/operators who may wish to exploit the great opportunities which Malta can offer to the international business aviation community.
Namely Sierra Aviation can be the co-ordinator between the foreign party and the Maltese authorities, providing constant follow-up from the day go to the day that the aircraft is registered in Malta, and/or an Air Service Licence and Air Operator Certificate is obtained.
For owners, Sierra Aviation can provide aircraft management. Through our numerous international partners, we can provide an unprecedented support that commensurate with the best in the industry at a fraction of the cost. Our staff, experienced in business aviation, and with local knowledge, in so far as, personal familiarization with the Civil Aviation Authority, the Airport Authority, the local Government, as well as the local labour market, company formation legislation will make sure that each customers requirements are met efficiently, safely, and legally.