Brexit restrictions have prompted UK private jet operator Air Charter Scotland to secure a European Union (EU) air operator’s certificate (AOC) in Malta. The company now has two of the 10 aircraft in its fleet on the Maltese register to be able to continue flying between the 27 EU states, which is no longer possible for UK operators.
The Glasgow-based company now has a Cessna Citation CJ3+ based in Malta and a Bombardier Challenger 350 at Nice in southern France. It also employs three flight crew residing in the EU to support these aircraft formerly based in the UK.
Malta has proved to be an attractive location for companies seeking EU registrations and AOCs. Of the 569 aircraft registered on the Mediterranean island, 168 are business jets owned by 37 different operators.
Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate has been active in attracting non-EU aircraft to its jurisdiction, with the promise of credible regulatory oversight and user-friendly administrative efficiency. “We set up the registry 10 years ago, but the last four years have become exceptionally busy and we now have to control the expansion,” said Charles Pace, director general of Transport Malta. He said 10 more operators are now seeking to add aircraft to the Maltese registry, including three more from the UK.
Air Charter Scotland said that it started working on the plan to establish an EU operation in mid-2018, two years after a UK referendum voted for the country to leave the EU, which happened at the end of January 2020. Following the end of a transition period on December 31, UK aircraft operators have no longer enjoyed full traffic rights and are also having to contend with complications resulting from the country’s departure from EASA.
“We determined late in 2019 it was a sensible step to embark upon to protect us from whatever obstacles Brexit would throw up operationally,” said Air Charter Scotland commercial director and accountable manager Derek Thomson. “We intend to have a third aircraft on the [Maltese] registry by April, giving us and our clients the utmost flexibility in being able to offer charter in the EU territories.”