‘New’ airline already paid €200,000 in accommodation, flights for consultants
Former Etihad consultants unsuccessfully engaged to save beleaguered national airline Air Malta before being brought in to work with the new flag carrier, KM Malta Airlines, have been paid some €200,000 in accommodation and flight costs over and above almost €5 million in consultancy fees.
After being refused the information by former Air Malta chairman David Curmi, who is now heading the new airline, The Shift filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking how much money the consultancy, Knighthood Global, has received.
The data shows that between mid-2021 and the end of 2023, Knighthood Global was paid a staggering €4.5 million in consultancy fees. In addition, other consultants from the same company were paid separately from the main contract to the tune of €100,000.
Some of the consultants engaged by Curmi are being paid hundreds of thousands of euro yearly.
Asked to list the expenses on accommodation, subsistence, lunches, dinners, and flight tickets, Curmi only gave partial information, stating that the total bill on the ‘extras’ has reached €200,000.
According to internal sources, this figure relates only to flight tickets and accommodation, not the other expenses mentioned in the FOI.
Initially, David Curmi, who was paid €21,500 a month despite the failure of Air Malta, engaged Knighthood Global to help him on the restructuring plan he had to present to the European Commission.
Brussels turned down the plan, telling them it was not feasible or even permitted by EU rules.
Instead of replacing the chairman and the expensive consultants, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana kept him in place to oversee the transition to the new airline, which he would head.
Curmi then hired the same consultants despite their advice being refused by the Commission, which ultimately led to Air Malta’s closure.
Knighthood was set up by James Hogan and James Rigney, the former CEO and CFO of Etihad, after they were forced to step down from the UAE airline.
In 2022, when their company was already on Air Malta’s books, they were charged in Court in Rome, accused of contributing to the Italian national air carrier’s (Alitalia) collapse.
Among the charges are aggravated fraudulent bankruptcy, false corporate communications, obstacles to supervision, and offences related to excessive costs in accommodation, lunches and other expenses.
They deny the charges. The case is ongoing.