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Ryanair, the largest low-cost airline in Europe, plans to establish a new airline, based on the island of Malta. According to the Times of Malta, the new airline, known as ‘Malta Air’, will replace Ryanair’s existing operations from Malta (MLA), which includes flights to 61 destinations. The new airline will have at least 10 aircraft based at MLA — up from the current five planes currently based there.

Ryanair has dozens of hubs around Europe where it bases various numbers of its fleet of more than 400 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. These 737 aircraft operate flights to and from their base all day, every day. And if not flying overnight, the aircraft traditionally return to their base airport each evening before commencing the next flight the following morning.

Malta Air is being developed in close consultation with the Maltese government, which is keen to grow the island and its aviation industry as both a tourist and transit destination.

A Ryanair 737-800  prepares to take-off at Castellon airport on September 15, 2015 in Castellon de la Plana, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
 (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

So why go through the effort of changing operations from Ryanair to a new airline?

Ryanair has recently established a new airline in Poland called Buzz, formerly Ryanair Sun. This was reportedly done in order to further reduce staffing costs by registering the airline in Poland rather than the larger ‘mainline’ Ryanair airline, which has always been registered in Ireland. The close cooperation with the Maltese Government suggests there could be financial incentives for Ryanair rebranding and registering a new airline in Malta.

Malta already has a national airline — Air Malta. Given the similarity in names, there could be significant confusion between the two airlines. The Maltese Government insists that the new Ryanair-spawned airline has no plans to replace the existing Air Malta, as the two airlines offer different products at different price points and target different passengers. This, despite the fact that both airlines will fly some of the same routes. Local reports suggested that Ryanair attempted to acquire Air Malta, however, the Maltese Government blocked this attempt.

Air Malta is a full-service airline with lounges and a business class cabin, while the new Malta Air, like Ryanair, is expected to be ultra-low-cost, with charges for everything down to hand luggage and airport check-in. No date has been announced for the new Maltese airline to commence operations.

Featured image by Getty Images

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