Malta’s shipping sector continues to show positive figures as Transport Malta, the authority responsible for the Malta Ship Register, has reported a strong performance for 2014. By the end of August, 2015, the authority announced that 7,109 mercantile vessels were on its registry flying the Maltese Flag. This equates to over 62 million tonnes and reflects a 6.8% increase compared to same period of the previous year.
This announcement reaffirms Malta’s reputation as a maritime hub. With the continued increase in investment that Malta attracts to this industry, it comes as no surprise that the island is currently ranked 6th worldwide (following the great performance in 2016), with the largest register in Europe.
The ever growing popularity of the Maltese Flag as the choice of flag for vessels, reflects the efficient registration process, as well as the numerous benefits attached to a successful registration. Malta boasts a good reputation in the maritime sector, promoting high standards in terms of safety at sea as well as pollution prevention. Advantages of the Maltese Flag include exemptions from Maltese income tax on the income that is derived from shipping activities of Maltese vessels of 1,000 net tonnes and over, as well as other tax and duty exemptions.
Malta is also a part to a number of international treaties, making it unlikely for ships with a Maltese Flag to be in breach of international conventions. In May, 2015, it was announced that Transport Malta registered the M.V. ‘Barzan’ – the world’s most environmentally friendly ultra-large container vessel. This reiterates the reliability of the Maltese Flag for vessels, and the confidence that such vessels have in the Maltese framework which will provide the highest standards of safety, security and protection of the environment. Given Malta’s robust legal framework, the shipping industry is expected to continue to flourish in the years to come
The Maltese Register has also become a global leader in commercial yachts registration. During 2014 the Maltese Flag registered a 13.6% increase over the previous year, in the registration of superyachts of over 24 meters in length. In December 2014, the superyacht fleet flying the Maltese Flag worldwide was 452.
Another industry that is booming in Malta is the Aviation industry. As of September of 2015, Malta’s aviation register has reached a record 201 registered aircrafts. In 2014, the Maltese Authority registered 43 aircrafts. Up until September, 2015, the authority had already registered 49 aircrafts since January. The Civil Aviation Directorate went through various restructuring initiatives in 2014, which include extensive training to key personnel as well as recruitment which doubled the specialized inspecting personnel at the authority. The Directorate continues to work hard on maintaining and improving their high level safety standards and service required by the industry. Their work has been recognized by the number of international operators that are now considering Malta for their business.
Five years ago only five companies on Malta held Aircraft Operator Certificates. In 2014, the number of companies holding such a certificate was increased to 21. In order for business to continue growing, and the industry to keep flourishing, the Aircraft Registration Act is in the process of being amended, as was announced by the Maltese Tourism Minister earlier this year.
Undoubtedly, exponential growth in the abovementioned industries is a positive sign for Malta’s future. These industries continue to contribute a fair share to Malta’s GDP, bringing in new business and worldwide investments to the island.