The Maltese Government has not yet informed the European Commission about its intention to offer support to national airline Air Malta after the company registered a record €31 million loss during the financial year ending 31 March 2009, Business Today has learnt.
Asked by Business Today to confirm whether the Maltese Government had informed the EC about its intention to intervene with Air Mlata through State aid, the Commission spokesperson did not mince his words.
“The competent service of the Commission (the Directorate General for Transport and Energy - DG TREN) has not had any contact with the Maltese authorities regarding any plans to offer support to Air Malta,” Fabio Pirotta said.
Last Friday, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech was quoted as saying that “talks had already started with the European Commission on a recapitalisation programme, which respected the EU’s state aid rules”.
When pressed, Fenech did not give any details about the new restructuring plans, claiming it was “premature”.
Asked about the conditions that the Maltese Government will have to fulfil in order for any such request to be accepted, the Commission spokesperson told Business Today:
“With respect to applicable legal framework the generally applicable rules in respect of firms in difficulty are the 2004 Community Guidelines on State aid for the rescue and restructuring of firms in difficulty as well as the 1994 Aviation State aid guidelines,”
Sources told Business Today that there were two types of aid that the Maltese Government could apply for under the 2004 guidelines – rescue aid and restructuring aid.