Planes blocked in Malta as Windjet ceases operations
Lufthansa Technik Malta is closely following developments following the floundering of Sicilian low-cost airline, Windjet, which has seven of its aircraft here for maintenance.
Civil aviation industry sources said the maintenance on the aircraft depended on whether the airline could pay. A meeting tomorrow between the doomed airline and Italy’s national carrier, Alitalia, to discuss a possible merger, could prove to be crucial.
According to plane spotters, two Airbus A320s arrived in Malta from Pisa and Rimini on Saturday and the other five planes, including two Airbus A319s, were parked inside Lufthansa Technik’s hangar in Luqa.
Efforts to speak to Lufthansa Technik Malta executives who could shed more light on the situation proved unsuccessful.
Thousands of passengers were stranded over the weekend as the Sicilian low-cost carrier stopped operations after the first round of talks with Alitalia failed.
The airline, which employed about 500 full-timers and several part-timers, was based in Passo Martino, Catania. It was founded in 2003 following the closing down of Air Sicilia.
Its chief executive, Antonino Pulvirenti, owns the Catania football club.
Alitalia had said in January that it would start negotiations to merge with Windjet and another Italian airline, Blue Panorama. In April, Alitalia chose to continue negotiations with Windjet, for which it was ready to offer between €20 and €30 million.
The Italian authorities gave their green light to the venture but also asked Alitalia to give up slots in some key domestic routes. This was unacceptable for Alitalia, which then abandoned its plans to merge with Windjet.
The low-cost carrier suddenly suspended all its operations on Saturday, leaving thousands of people stranded at various airports, forcing the Italian civil aviation authority, Enac, to warn that it would suspend its licence.
The suspension of operations affected at least 300,000 people, who had booked flights with the company up to October.
Italy’s Economic Development Minister has called both airlines to a meeting in Rome tomorrow to try to reach a last-ditch deal.