In the first episode of Ganado Meets Transport podcast, Ganado Advocates’ Matthew Xerri, Senior Associate within the shipping and aviation team, met with Captain Charles Pace to discuss the latest developments on Aviation in Malta.
The Aircraft Registration Act
Since the incorporation of the Aircraft Registration Act in 2010, Malta has seen an exponential growth in terms of aircraft registered in Malta as well as aircraft operators who have established themselves in Malta. Captain Pace argues that the Aircraft Registration Act and in particular Malta’s accession to the Cape Town Convention was one of the essential elements which spearheaded this growth.
Malta’s decision to implement an operator’s register rather than an owner’s register seems to have been the correct choice, with the jurisdiction able to attract business jet operators, charter and ACMI operators as well as fully fledged airlines. Capt. Pace comments that operators are more “organised” and have professional setups in place which assists in the registration, operation and management of aircraft.
COVID has naturally disrupted the aviation industry, however, at the same time, opportunities do arise in such circumstances, such as the possibility to park aircraft which are not being operated on the Malta Aircraft Register. Furthermore, several airlines have shifted their operation from the carriage of passengers to the carriage of cargo, since there are “opportunities in cargo” as confirmed by Capt. Pace, with the demand for the latter increasing substantially over the last twelve months.
In fact Captain Pace, mentions that EASA (the European Union Aviation Safety Agency) reacted to this demand and also the need to transfer a huge amount of cargo and granted a number of exemptions on cargo modifications with a lot of aircraft carrying cargo in the cabin.
The Aircraft Registration Act has always catered for the possibility of various persons owning a percentage of an aircraft. This seems to be a growing trend lately with individuals seeking to invest and become part-owners in aircraft. Capt. Pace that this trend will increase in the near future and is here to stay since there are a number of operators who have shown an interest in providing such services.
Article 83 bis agreements
Article 83 bis agreements under the Convention on International Civil Aviation can be described as a tool whereby an aircraft is registered in one jurisdiction which is responsible for the registration of the aircraft, while the aviation authority of another jurisdiction will be responsible for overseeing the operation and management of that aircraft. Capt. Pace mentions that this is widely accepted and in fact there is an Italian airline which has registered all its fleet in Malta.
UAVs and the need for their regulation
Capt. Pace comments that although the UAV industry is interesting and the technology is advancing, the legislation seems to be lagging. Transport Malta has implemented a system of registration and licensing however, it deals with a smaller drone type. Ideally Malta should focus on the larger UAVs which are flown beyond the visual line of sight.
The growth within the aviation industry in Malta has put a lot of pressure on the resources with the Civil Aviation Directorate and Capt. Pace has confirmed that it is a must that with the increase in the number of registrations and operators there must be a parallel increase in the personnel within the authority.
Nonetheless, Capt. Pace comments that there are still a lot of opportunities within the industry for further growth and not only in terms of aircraft registration and aircraft operators but also local support services.