Latest News

3 October

Air Malta to close and be replaced by new company

Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced that the country’s national airline, Air Malta, will be closed down and replaced by a new company next year as the Maltese Government seeks to address the airline’s financial difficulties.

While the new airline will offer a smaller number of destinations, it will maintain the same fleet and re-employ the existing staff in addition to continuing to operate under the Air Malta brand, which is owned by the government, after the switchover between 30 March and 31 March 2024. 

The decision comes after negotiations between the Maltese Government and the European Union after the bloc refused to provide a requested cash injection of €290m ($304m) to keep the airline flying. It means the new company will be partly owned by private enterprises, either through the issuing of shares or through a strategic partnership.

To help the transition to a new airline, which will officially be called KM Malta Airlines, the government will reportedly invest €350m ($369.7m) into the new company, with €300m ($316.9m) covering the purchase of three aircraft that are currently leased, with other costs including the purchase of airport slots, hangars and other property from Air Malta. 

5 October

Joby conducts first onboard pilot tests of eVTOL aircraft

Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Joby Aviation says it has reached a "significant milestone" in its testing programme, as four pilots have now flown the prototype craft for the first time. 

Joby’s flight test team has taken to the air over the company’s Pilot Production Facility in Marina, California, to complete a series of initial tests of its electric air taxi. 

The programme has seen the four pilots carry out a range of manoeuvres to emulate the day-to-day operations of the aircraft once it enters service, such as free thrustborne hovers and forward transitions to semi-thrustborne flight. 

Alongside testing the aircraft’s capabilities, the programme also sets up later “for credit” testing that will support Joby’s certification with the Federal Aviation Administration and its ongoing work with the US Department of Defence.

22 September

“Faked” safety documents found in 100 AOG-linked engines

American Airlines is the latest carrier to report the discovery of faked safety documents for replacement parts in one of its jets’ engines, as the scale of the AOG Technics scandal is beginning to be revealed. 

The US giant’s report is at least the 96th such alert of engines built by CFM International (owned by General Electric and Safran) fitted with components with allegedly faked safety certification sold by the London-based AOG Technics. 

The forgeries were discovered in Europe in August, but the issue appears to be global.

Meanwhile, a court in London ordered AOG Technics to disclose its records in a suit brought by CFM and its co-owners against the London-based company and its founder, Jose Alejandro Zamora Yrala. 

14 September

European Parliament vote approves 2050 SAF targets 

The European Parliament in Strasbourg has voted to approve a plan that would bind European airports to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) targets.

The regulation, if ratified by the EU member states, will force fuel suppliers to ensure SAF is available at all EU airports. Levels to be made available will ramp up towards 2050. By 2025, 2% of the fuel available must be SAF, rising to 6% in 2030, 20% in 2035, and 70% by 2050.

The ReFuelEU Aviation Initiative will also require the use of synthetic fuels. At least 1.2% of aviation fuels in the EU will need to be synthetic by 2030 and 35% by 2050.

The initiative is part of the EU’s Fit for 55 programme and will also encourage the use of hydrogen at EU airports.

13 September

High Court rules Qantas illegally outsourced ground handling work

Australian airline Qantas has lost its High Court appeal against a ruling that found it had illegally outsourced 1,700 ground handling workers in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The High Court of Australia unanimously dismissed the appeal, upholding the original full Federal Court ruling from July 2021, which said that, while the airline had valid commercial reasons for making the decision to outsource the work, it had not managed to prove there were no other unlawful reasons for the action, namely to prevent industrial action from workers.

Though former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has already brought forward his retirement following weeks of controversy for the company, the Transport Workers Union (TWU), who brought the case against Qantas, has now called for the replacement of the entire company board following the ruling.