It is currently estimated that 214 Maltese residents own a private aircraft. This is the second-highest rate within Europe; only Austria supersedes such a figure. The Aircraft Registration Act is the main body of legislation that regulates aircraft registrations in Malta. Following Malta's accession to the Cape Town Convention and the Aircraft Protocol, we saw an increased number of registrations. Importantly, the Cape Town Convention sought to establish a harmonised legal framework facilitating acquisition financing, and the leasing of aviation assets, as well as an international registry. The Cape Town Convention also has the ultimate aim of protecting creditors and lessors, in the events of default, or otherwise in the event of an insolvency.
Private and Commercial Registrations
There are several pertinent eligibility guidelines to appreciate. These will depend on whether the aircraft is intended to be used for private or commercial purposes.
Who is Eligible To Register An Aircraft in Malta?
In terms of private aircraft registration, the individual must be residing within a member country of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development). Other countries may also be approved and these are ultimately determined by the Maltese Ministry. Assuming that these qualifications are met, additional stipulations likewise apply:
- The individual has the legal capacity to operate the aircraft in accordance with the law.
- A local resident is employed to represent the recognised owner during the registration process.
- The owner adheres to all applicable rules and regulations.
In instances where one would require a commercial aircraft registration, an entity would require an Air Operator Certificate as well as an Air Operator Licence. Here at CSB Group, we assist clients with the whole application process for the purpose of obtaining an AOC and an AOL with the aim of providing air services within the aviation field. It should be noted that air services are defined by Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 as 'flights or series of flights carrying passengers, cargo and/or mail for remuneration and/or hire'.
Obtaining an AOC and AOL Certificate
An AOC and an AOL are granted by the Maltese Civil Aviation Department ('CAD'). The AOC, once granted, confirms that the undertaking has the professional ability and the organisational services required for the purposes of ensuring the safety of operations as specified therein. The AOL goes hand in hand with the AOC and refers to the specific operating licencing granted by the CAD to an undertaking; allowing it to provide the specific air services indicated therein. Every AOC holder must obtain an Operating Licence (AOL) in order to commence operations.
The Application Process for the purposes of acquiring an AOL and AOC involves a number of phases which take the following sequence:
- Pre-application phase
- Formal application phase
- Document evaluation phase
- Inspection and demonstration phase; and
- Certification phase
Further detail on the application process is provided here.
The Benefits of Registering an Aircraft in Malta
There are several advantages directly associated with aviation in Malta. Whether referring to privately owned aircraft or those intended for commercial purposes, it is wise to highlight some key points.
Many owners feel that the generous Maltese corporate tax system will directly apply to aircraft owners; offering unique financial windfalls that might not be possible in other countries. This likewise includes the notion of fractional ownership (often used for investment purposes). Here are some additional qualities that are entirely unique to Malta:
- The private aircraft registration regulations are relatively flexible.
- Superior levels of legal transparency.
- Malta does not apply any withholding tax on profits available for distribution/dividends.
- Excellent levels of safety and security.
Further information on the benefits applicable within the aviation sector in Malta is available here.
Aviation Finance: Registering an Aviation Mortgage in Malta
The Aircraft Registration Act, in seeking to protect creditors, allows for the possibility to register mortgages over Maltese Aircrafts. For a Mortgage over a Maltese Aircraft to have effect the Mortgage Deed must necessarily be submitted to and recorded by the Civil Aviation Directorate. Importantly, Mortgages would take priority from the date when they are submitted to the registry and not from the date indicated within the Mortgage Deed. Additionally, Aircraft registered owners as well as Mortgagees, must keep also the CAD informed as to any changes to their registered office.
The De-Registration of an Aircraft
The Aircraft Registration Act also provides for the possibility of filing a standard de-registration application or otherwise an Irrevocable De-Registration and Export Request Authorisation (IDERA). A number of conditions would need to be satisfied in this regard and naturally our legal professionals here at CSB Group would be in a position to assist you further as may be required.
How CBS Group Can Help with Aircraft Registration
The cadre of trained professionals at CSB Group will be more than happy to provide further assistance in relation to aircraft registrations, AOCs, AOLs or any other aviation matters.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.