UK-based Synergy Aviation are the first to have formally presented a detailed proposal to government to service the Malta-Gozo fixed-wing airlink.
At a meeting held last week at the Ministry for Gozo, Ministers Giovanna Debono and Censu Galea heard submissions from Synergy Aviation executives in the presence of representatives from the Gozo Business Chamber and the Gozo Tourism Association.
Synergy are based in Surrey and is owned by Glen Heavens and Fiona Brittion.
While government has so far expressed caution in committing itself over the issue of fixed-winged airlink service from Malta to Gozo, spokesmen for both the ministry for Gozo and the ministry for transport insisted on commenting that “all options are being considered”.
The discussions into operating a fixed-wing airlink service between Malta and Gozo were triggered following the surprise pull-out of Spannish helicopter operators Helisureste, which ceased their operations earlier this month after a mere six months.
Though Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono stated in Parliament last week that Helisureste have recently proposed a wet lease agreement, leaving an open door for re-consideration as the company still have ground-handling machinery at the Xewkija heliport, the Gozo Business Community is avidly pushing for a fixed-wing service.
The presentation by Synergy Aviation is reported to have enthused the Gozitan business community, as they demonstrated the aircraft models they could operate to service the island.
The issue is due for discussion at Prime Minister level in the coming days, particularly regarding the decision to extend the existing Xewkija heliport landing pad into an airstrip.
The decision will have to compliment another decision – that of what size of fixed-wing aircraft would be allowed to land at the site.
Informed sources have told Business Today that the idea is to service Gozo with a five to seven-seat two or single propelled fixed-wing aircraft.
“We envisage a low-profile beginning,” said a Gozitan businessman who chose not to be quoted, adding that the business community is cautious not to upset environmental activists over the matter.
Government meanwhile is reported to be adamant in its position that should it decide to go for an airstrip in Gozo, the service would not be limited to just one exclusive operator, but to anyone who would like to fly and land there, provided the aircraft dimensions are those set by the regulations.
Moreover, the idea being touted by both government and Gozo businessmen alike, is that should the airstrip be done, then Gozo would be accessible for light fixed-wing aircraft to commute to other Mediterranean destinations, like Sicily, Cyprus, Libya and Tunisia.
The concept would boost the Gozitan tourist economy that is set to see a major overhaul with the upcoming development of luxury properties and hotels on the island. But the airstrip also has a sizeable group of critics, including environmental activists, who back in 1996 managed to convince Prime Minister Alfred Sant to shelf the airstrip proposal upon Labour’s election to government.