7 - 13 March 2001

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Air Malta appointing chief executive

By Miriam Dunn

Air Malta is in the process of recruiting a chief executive officer, the national carrier's chairman, Louis Grech, has told The Business Times.

Speaking during an interview, Mr Grech said he believed it had been proven in other companies that a CEO and a chairman could work alongside each other.

"There could obviously be separation of powers to give dual roles, which, I think, could work very well," he said, adding tellingly, "and this could also be important for succession purposes."
Mr Grech confirmed that following the massive increase in fuel costs last year, flights would increase in price next month, but he stressed these rises would be "nominal", probably in the region of a net value of 3 per cent.

He explained that Air Malta had kept its flight prices at the same level for 20 months even though, during this time, its fuel bill

"This year alone, our fuel bill will rise from Lm8 million to around Lm16 million, eroding some Lm8 million out of our profitability," he said.

Mr Grech also told The Business Times that in a few months, Air Malta will be commissioning a business plan that will map out its economic scenario, strategy and policies for the medium term of three to five years.

"In conjunction with this plan, which should be finalised by the end of the year, we are already laying out a detailed fleet exercise," he said. "These two projects together will tell us where we are going."
He added that the national carrier planned to renew its fleet over the next few years, at an estimated cost of some $400 million.

"As far as destinations are concerned, we have been adding a number of new routes and will look at expanding into others, but this will be coupled with consolidation," he said. "Although we have increased certain flights to assist the tourism industry, we will also be looking at new destinations that might be more interesting in terms of revenue, since we have to ensure that whatever strategy we adopt, it ensures our survival and profitability."
The chairman stressed that Air Malta's future strategy had to encompass an extremely efficient fleet, a strong distribution, flexible and creative pricing, revenue maximisation and a very good product, while maintaining costs at a very sustainable level.

"That will be the winning formula to face the future in what is an industry that is becoming harsher all the time," he said.

A full interview with Louis Grech will appear in next week's edition of The Business Times, as the Amitex Fair opens

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt