Qualitair, an International aviation recruitment consultancy, is landing in Malta, with a new office based in Malta International Airport. Qualitair Malta will be supplying technicians to the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul sector, and following the Malta launch, is also set to start supplying airlines with crew and the airport with ground.
“The aviation sector is absolutely flying at the moment, as Malta transforms itself into a transit hub as well as a holiday destination,” says Ruth Sawers, who will head up Qualitair Malta. “There are now almost 40 airlines registered - not to mention the training schools for cabin crew, maintenance engineers, and pilots. Air Malta’s restructuring has been a success, is set to add new routes to Asia and North America and looks to be growing its fleet,” she continues, asserting that the Maltese aviation cluster has seen extensive Government investment, which she believes is paying off.
“Malta might be known for its maritime pedigree but its aviation ecosystem is where the action is. As an aviation recruiter, we need to be a part of that. Our strategy is to be present in key aviation hubs around Europe and with the growth of the cluster, it’s become imperative we open a base on the ground here. While we have been supplying workers to the aircraft maintenance sector here since 2009, we’ve never had the benefit of a local presence. y making this commitment to the Maltese aviation community, we hope to demonstrate that we see Malta as one of the key up-and-coming aviation hubs in Europe.”
Last year, it was announced that Malta’s sole airport will be expanded. By April 2019, more than 1,400 people were employed in the aviation industry in Malta - an increase of more than five per cent over the previous 12 months. That was before the announcement that British aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman was investing €1m to establish a local base on Malta, growing the cluster further. Then Ryanair announced plans to launch a new Malta-based subsidiary airline, Malta Air, in June. The new carrier currently has six B737s based in Malta but there are plans to increase the size of the fleet to 10 aircraft within the next three years, with the creation of over 350 news jobs. In addition to transferring six of its fleet to the new airline, Ryanair is re-registering another 50 aircraft from France, Italy and Germany onto the Malta AOC, raising the prospect of using the island as a maintenance hub. But it appears that growth in the sector is already leading to a skills gap.
“If there’s a blackspot on the horizon for the cluster, it’s the local skills shortage,” says Paul Conway, managing director at Qualitair, explaining that this presents an enormous challenge for companies in the industry. “In the long run, our intention is to invest in the next generation of aviation professionals by working with the local college, Malta College of Arts Science and Technology, to help graduates gain real-world experience around our client network off Malta. Once they have it, we will then guide these graduates back to Malta and into their first aviation job,” he adds.
“But while we have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MCAST to formalise our partnership, you can’t produce qualified people overnight. In the short term we are going to need to facilitate the immigration of skilled professionals to Malta from elsewhere in the EU. Fortunately, our experience over the past ten years suggests aviation professionals across our international network find working in Malta very appealing. The facilities and working conditions offered here - not to mention the climate - make working here an attractive proposition. So we are launching Qualitair Malta with plans to bridge the talent gap in both the short and medium terms. That should help future proof the cluster’s growth.”
Qualitair specialises in the provision of staff for the line maintenance for aircraft types - ranging from small regional turboprops to A380s; base maintenance, involving mechanics, sheet metal workers, composite engineers, and certifying engineers; and the provision of candidates with a background in design, technical support, CAMO and program management; as well as aircraft preppers, painters and the component and workshop roles.