The Maltese government is to upgrade an unused heliport on Gozo island in order to facilitate the establishment of an air taxi service to Malta Int'l.

This was announced by Maltese lawmaker and responsible Minister for Gozo, Clint Camilleri, during the closing of the 2022 budget debate in the Maltese Parliament on November 8, reports The Times of Malta.

Camilleri said the heliport’s runway would be extended to handle seven to eleven-seater aircraft. He said works would be carried out within the existing airport boundaries.

The air taxi service would adopt the same operational model as a fast ferry service, he added. Interest had already been expressed by potential operators. The facility could also be used for flight training schools and by companies involved in the production and testing of drones, he added.

As reported previously, the heliport on Gozo is maintained by Malta's Ministry for Gozo, but has not been used for years.

The last regular connection between the two islands was operated by seaplane operator Harbour Air Malta (Malta Int'l) between 2007 and 2012. Air Malta’s now-defunct subsidiary, Malta Air Charter (R5, Malta Int'l), offered a helicopter link to Gozo between 1990 and 2004, carrying an average of 50,000 passengers a year. Despite Air Malta having subsidised the venture by more than EUR345,000 a year, the service was unprofitable and was stopped in 2004. Spain’s Heli Sureste (UV, Alicante) took over the route in 2005 but abandoned it a year later due to losses.

The government in 2019 launched a feasibility study on the reintroduction of a helicopter service and mentioned state-owned Malta MedAir (MT, Malta Int'l) as an interested contender, but the initiative never took off after a tender process was halted following objections over its process raised by Helicopter Services Malta (HSM, Malta Int'l).

In 2016, the government launched a study into laying an airstrip. Three years earlier, it had forwarded plans to the European Union for a 900-metre-long grass airfield on Gozo with the aim of tapping into EU funding for the estimated EUR14 million project. The airstrip was meant to be completed by 2017 and be capable of handling both internal flights and air traffic from surrounding regions. The document sent to the EU stated that a new airstrip could more than double Gozo’s tourist arrivals.