Obtaining a Maltese Operating Licence when Providing Air Services

Each and every Maltese company that is responsible for the carriage of passengers, cargo or mail by air (for remuneration) is required to obtain an operating licence that is issued by the Civil Aviation Directorate (CAD) and regulated by the Civil Aviation (Air Transport Licensing) Regulations.[1]  

In Malta, according to article 4 of regulation 1008/2008, air carriers shall be granted an operating license by the CAD only if the following requirements are met:

  • it has its principal place of business in Malta;
  • it has obtained a valid air operator certificate (AoC) issued by the CAD;
  • its main occupation and purpose is to operate air services in isolation or combined with any other commercial operation of aircrafts or the repair and maintenance of aircrafts;
  • it has one or more aircrafts at its disposal by means of  a dry lease or ownership;
  • it is owned and effectively controlled by more than 50% by EU member states or nationals whether directly or indirectly through one or more intermediate undertakings.
  • its company structure is transparent;
  • it meets several financial requirements;
  • it is reputable and is not involved in bankruptcy proceedings and
  • it complies with insurance requirements.[2]

With regards to the financial requirements, first-time applicants must prove to the CAD that they are fully able to[3]:

  1. meet potential and actual obligations for a period of 24 months from the commencement of the operations; and
  2. meet fixed and operational costs incurred by its operations according to its business plan and established under realistic assumptions, for a 3-month period from the beginning of its operations, while not taking into account any income derived from its operations.

Additionally, first-time applicants are also obliged to submit the following documentation in order to obtain an operator licence, namely[4];

  1. the most recent internal management accounts and, subject to availability, audited accounts for the previous financial year;
  2. a projected balance sheet, including profit and loss accounts, for the following two years;
  3. the basis for projected expenses and income figures in relation to fuel, fares and rates, salaries, maintenance, depreciation, exchange rate fluctuations, airport charges, insurance, traffic and revenue forecasts;
  4. details of the start-up costs incurred between the submission of application to commencement of operations and an explanation of how it is proposed to finance these costs;
  5. details on existing and projected sources of finance;
  6. details of shareholders, including nationalities and the types of shares held, and the article of association;
  7. projected cash flow statements and liquidity plans for the first two years of operation; and
  8. details on the financing of aircraft purchasing and leasing, including the terms and conditions of the contract in case of leasing.

Above all, it is important to note that ‘air services’ which operate locally (i.e. local flights), and services which are performed by a non-power-driven aircraft or an ultralight power-driven aircraft do not require an operating licence.

For more information on the obtaining an operating licence in Malta kindly contact Dr Robert Tufigno or Dr Sean Xerri de Caro .

This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.

[1] EU regulation 1008/2008

[2] Regulation (EC) No 785/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators.

[3] Regulation 1008/2008, Article 5

[4] Regulations S.L. 499.28, the Civil Aviation (Air Transport Licensing) Regulations