Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l) is planning to launch a Maltese subsidiary which will take over all the carrier's routes from Malta Int'l, the Times of Malta has reported.

The new airline, tentatively named Malta Air, will be a partnership between the Irish LCC and the government of Malta, which will hold a golden share with a veto right over the sale of the airline.

Ryanair pledged to initially transfer all of its B737-800s based out of Malta to the new subsidiary and re-register them in Malta. Subsequently, the carrier will increase the fleet to ten Boeing narrowbodies, build a maintenance centre in Malta, and expand its network from the Mediterranean island.

According to the ch-aviation capacities module, Ryanair currently operates 176 weekly departures out of Malta to 62 destinations, although not all of the flights are operated by Malta-based aircraft.

Air Malta (KM, Malta Int'l), the island's flag carrier, has a standing partnership with Ryanair wherein tickets for Air Malta's flights are sold through the LCC's website. Chairman Charles Mangion told ch-aviation during the IATA AGM in Seoul that Air Malta was very satisfied with the partnership and did not treat Ryanair as a direct competitor.

The Irish LCC currently has three subsidiaries - Lauda (OE, Vienna) in Austria, established after the takeover of Niki from bankrupt airberlin group, Ryanair Sun (RR, Warsaw Chopin) in Poland, established initially as a charter airline and subsequently converted into a local unit of the LCC, and Ryanair UK (RUK, London Stansted) in the United Kingdom which serves as a fail-safe in case of hard Brexit.