Malta Air Traffic Services Ltd (MATS) is the Air Navigation Service Provider for Malta. MATS provides a variety of services primarily aimed at ensuring that aircraft flying in the Malta Flight Information Region (FIR) are safely separated in accordance with international civil aviation regulations. Safety is therefore the first and foremost priority but MATS also aims to provide its services in an efficient and cost-effective way. In 2010 the Air Traffic Control centre of the MATS handled over 94,000 aircraft movements.
The Company is directed by a Board of Directors appointed by the shareholders and is managed by a Management Team under the direction of the company's Chief Executive Officer.
In the light of the partial privatisation of Malta International Airport p.l.c. (MIA), the Government of Malta had decided that Air Traffic Services, which are indispensable for the operation of the Malta Flight Information Region, should no longer remain the responsibility of the operator responsible for the airport. Specifically it was decided that Government should retain control of Air Traffic Services (ATS), based on the fact that ATS is not a pure commercial activity with the ultimate aim of profit generation. To this end, a new fully owned Government company, Malta Air Traffic Services Limited, was set up on 27th March 2001.
MATS assumed control of all air traffic and technical support services within the Malta FIR as from 1st January 2002, in accordance with the Air Navigation License granted by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
As from the same date, MATS also assumed responsibility for all assets previously owned and operated by MIA in the provision of Air Traffic Control and ancillary services, except for those relating directly to the airfield namely the Instrument Landing System and the Doppler Weather Radar.
The initial issued and paid up share capital of MATS is currently held by Malta Government Investments Ltd and Malta Investment Management Company Ltd. Both companies are fully owned by the Government of Malta.
MATS provides air traffic services from the Air Traffic Control Centre located at Luqa Airport and the Apron Management Unit located at the airport terminal. In order to provide this service MATS operates four control units and further details on these units can be found on the from the Services Section.
Malta is a member of EUROCONTROL, an organization set up to regulate the safety of air navigation in Europe. Another important function of EUROCONTROL is to regulate the costs associated with Air Traffic Services in the respective member states and, more importantly, to serve as a clearing house for the charging of these costs to airlines and for the collection and remittance of the proceeds to the member states in accordance with pre-established rates. MATS, being the Air Navigation Service Provider for Malta, are a non-profit making organisation since the rationale behind the provision of ATS is simply to recover the costs from the operators using the airspace of EUROCONTROL member States. Therefore, the main aim of MATS is to provide a professional and efficient service to end users, through the use of appropriate equipment and trained staff, in line with international air safety standards and procedures, and to recover all its costs in a harmonised manner.
Way back in 1969, the EUROCONTROL member States adopted the basic principles for a harmonised regional en-route charges system, involving a single charge per flight. The EUROCONTROL Central Route Charges Office (CRCO) was then set up to operate this system on behalf of the member States.
Under the EUROCONTROL International Convention relating to Cooperation for the Safety of Air Navigation the member States consider that the operation of a common route charges system, with due regard to the guidelines recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in particular concerning equity and transparency, contributes to the funding of the uniform European air traffic management system and facilitates consultation with users. Accordingly, the member States have agreed to implement a common policy for the establishment and calculation of charges levied on aircraft operators of en-route air navigation facilities and services, hereinafter called "route charges". These charges represent the main income component of MATS.
The ATS charges differ from one state to another depending on the cost structure of the different ATS functions.
The CRCO also offers member States a calculation, billing and collection service for terminal charges, being a combination of aerodrome and approach control charges. MIA has not yet introduced terminal charges in its fee structure. In the absence of this terminal charge to operators, MATS charges MIA a fixed annual fee to cover the relative costs.