There are a number of Island communities which depend on sea ferries for access, for example, in the British Channel Islands or the West Indies.
Not all of these also have an airport. In most cses it is the rugged terrain which prohibits this. If the land is flat and space is available, a small airstrip has been laid.
1. For family emergencies, on the mainland or abroad.
2. For medical support, where a specialist is needed.
3. For fast and secure freight, IT Files and currency transfer.
4. To reduce overall travel time, especially for the elderly and infirm.
5. As a luxury, for those who cannot stand hassle.
6. To avoid a crush – and sea sickness.
An example is the Island of Gozo (Ghawdex), the second largest island in the Malta group. For 18 years there was a helicopter shuttle service. This has now been withdrawn because of costs. It is much less expensive to operate a small passenger aircraft - all that is needed is a landing strip. Tourism and business has declined in recent years, especially when compared to Malta.
There are a number of operators prepared to operate a service but there is no political will to convert the Heliport to an airfield. An 800 m runway can be laid on government-owned land well to the south of the Heliport and well clear of residences. A taxiway would connect this to the existing terminal whose helipad can be used to park and board small passenger aircraft (up to 19 seats - NO JETS). No extra buildings will be needed. (See plan below).
OPTION “A” An extension of the 174 m Helipad runway.
This option has been suggested by the Malta Directorate of Civil Aviation.
This plan would intrude into arable land and would require an extension of a 3 metre high mound in both directions for the runway and flat over-run areas at each side which would be costly. No provision is made for passenger and freight aircraft parking. If constructed on this elevated site the runway would need a lot of maintenance . The eastwards extension would require the diversion of the access road into a tunnel, thus increasing the cost. Aircraft on approach and departure would overfly residential areas, especially at Għajnsielem.
OPTION “B”: An 800m runway to the South-East
The Gozo Airlink team of experts have suggested this layout
This strip is aligned toprevailing winds and a direct flight path to the east would be possible. A link taxiway could traverse the northern road at a gated crossing under the control of the adjacent fire station. Further details may be found at
At the eastern end there would need to be a return path for aircraft after landing. Beyond this an area could be made available for a large picnic and recreational site. An Air Park would provide a substantial income. Underground cisterns could be built to store rainwater.
Additional revenue will accrue from franchises within the terminal such as a bureu de change, hire car and information desk inbound and Gozo Crafts, Flowers and wines outbound, in addition to those from the airpark, navigation and landing fees.
Published by the G.A.T Team leader