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New flag carrier that starts flying in Malta

 Malta’s national airline, Air Malta, ceased operations on Saturday, 50 years after its first flight, making way for a new flag carrier that starts flying on Sunday.

Air Malta began operations in 1974 but eventually became loss-making, forcing successive governments to implement measures to stop the hemorrhage.

The decision to shut down the debt-ridden airline came last year when the European Commission refused to allow the Maltese government to save the ailing airline through a 300 million euro (324 million U.S. dollars) injection. The Commission said this would have breached EU State-aid rules.

The new KM Malta Airlines will take over as the flag carrier for the Maltese islands, operating a smaller number of routes and with a leaner staff complement.

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Famagusta Gazette