The Maltese government has hired international aviation consultancy firm Knighthood Global - led by former Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi International) executives James Hogan and James Rigney - to assist in closing down Air Malta (Malta International) and launching a new national airline, KM Malta Airlines (KM, Malta International).

This was revealed by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana when he tabled the contract in Parliament on October 11, reports Malta Independent. Responding to a parliamentary question, Caruana said Knighthood Global was engaged temporarily to provide financial and strategic advice, help implement the new airline's business plan, and second an experienced aviation consultant on a temporary basis. The EUR200,000 euros (USD210,000) per month contract was signed in June 2022, extended in January and expires at the end of 2023.

The Maltese government on October 3 announced the establishment of KM Malta Airlines, which will commence operations on March 31, 2024, when Air Malta closes down after 50 years of operation. This follows the Maltese parliament's ratification of a five-year business plan developed by Knighthood Global, which outlines the strategic roadmap for establishing a new national carrier.

In a statement, UAE-based Knighthood Global said it was also appointed to initiate a comprehensive planning process for negotiations with the European Commission to find a way forward after successive attempts to resuscitate and reposition Air Malta over two decades were unsuccessful. It said a robust network of key destinations and a modern, fuel-efficient fleet drove the five-year business plan.

According to Caruana, the firm's responsibilities also include ensuring a smooth transition between the old and new airlines, reviewing funding requirements, creating a communications strategy, aligning work practices with industry standards, and configuring a financial accounting system.

As reported, Valleta's decision to close Air Malta and launch a new national airline was made due to significant financial losses and a refusal by Brussels to provide further state aid to the carrier.

Knighthood Global has also been working on a strategic plan for the Zimbabwean government to jumpstart the country's aviation industry, including Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare International). It partners with ACMI and charter specialist Hi Fly Malta (3L, Malta International) to provide airline solutions.