Skip to main content


Right up to Independence in 1964, aviation in Malta was a ‘reserved matter’.  This meant that whatever sort of constitution Malta had, anything under the label of ‘aviation was controlled by the British military.

The early forms of aerodrome control, mainly using Verrey pistols and lights that the RAF operated in the UK were automatically adopted in Malta when airfields were developed first at Hal Far, then at Ta’ Qali and just before World War II, Luqa.

It was the war that gave birth, out of sheer necessity, to Air Traffic Control as we know it today.

During the latter stages of war, Sector Operations moved to Hal Far and later still to Luqa.  With peace and almost immediate reappearance of civil aircraft, civil aviation began to reappear. The Chicago Convention enticed the birth of new airline companies and more peaceful bilateral agreements.

Increasing numbers of civil aircraft began to use Luqa, mainly for refuelling and stopovers.  Luqa soon developed into a joint military/civil user aerodrome, while more and more flights began to transit Malta’s not yet full defined airspace.

In 1947, Malta gets its own FIR, and thanks to the British forces by 1954 Maltese controllers had replaced all expatriates.  Malta took Independence in 1964, and by 1978 Government had practically all the staff it needed to run ATC in Malta.

On the 30th March 1979, ATC staff took the oath and signed the appropriate documents officially making them members of the Armed Forces of Malta.  On the 31st March 1979 RAF controllers left the Tower for the last time.  Maltese controllers and assistants took over all aspects of ATC.

The rest is history.

This literature is thanks to Mr. Anthony Gregory (an ex air traffic controller)

Image: Malta FIR 1965