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   'Glorious sunshine hails Carnival a success
    Wed, February 21, 2007 - as reported by the Times...

   Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The reign of fun and revelry came to a grand conclusion yesterday after five days which saw thousands of spectators swarming to Valletta and other parts of the islands.
The weather was more benign than usual with blue skies although a bit windy.
 
On Saturday children dressed as fairies, clowns, princesses, Spider Man, Red Indians and a whole array of other colourful costumes thronged the streets of Valletta for the second day of Carnival.
 
The weather continued to be kind as the sun blazed through the day allowing the season of merriment to be enjoyed to the full without any of the usual glitches caused by rain and wind.
Floats in fluorescent colours towered over the crowds along Republic Street. In the afternoon, dancing competitions were followed by a parade of floats and bands in the Carnival enclosure.
 
In Gozo, a parade in Republic Street, Victoria, was followed by a dance spectacle with the participation of school groups. Carnival was also celebrated in Xewkija, Qala and San Lawrenz, although it was the usual merriment at Nadur which attracted the crowds.
 
Yesterday crowds flocked to the capital to watch the Gran Defile of floats and later the Gran Finale as the multi-coloured floats left Valletta and passed through St Anne Street, Floriana.

Photo: Austin Tufigno

The somewhat pagan flavour of carnival gives way to a holy event, as the Catholic Church today celebrates Ash Wednesday marking the first day of Lent, a period of 40 days of prayer and special penance in preparation for Easter.
 
 

Tue, January 16, 2007- as reported by the Times...

Seaplane to link Malta and Gozo

A Single Otter, similar to the one to operate in Malta, landing in Canada. Photo: Airliners.net

The air link between Malta and Gozo is expected to be restored by May with the introduction of a seaplane to fly between the two islands.

A Maltese/Canadian company will operate the service from Grand Harbour to Mgarr, a mere 10-minute journey, The Times has learnt.

The price for the flight will be in the region of Lm10 per passenger and there will be some 13 flights per day each way.

The aircraft will land just outside Mgarr Harbour and then taxi in. The company is negotiating with the Malta Maritime Authority and the Gozo Ministry to find a suitable mooring spot for the floatplane.

The earmarked DeHavilland Single Otter aircraft is equipped with both floats and wheels, allowing it to come down on land or water, as well as having short take-off and landing capabilities. It can carry 14 passengers and will be captained by Canadian pilots.

The service will only be hampered by "extreme" weather conditions, especially south-westerly winds, sources said.

A free courtesy shuttle bus will operate from the airport to Grand Harbour and back.

The company is also planning to offer scenic tours around Malta and Gozo as well as targeting cruise liner passengers that visit for a few hours.

"The concept of taking off and landing in water is safe, innovative, and will surely create a huge interest in Malta both with locals and tourists," the sources said.

"The introduction of this service will also create a niche market for business travellers who can hop on a plane from the Valletta side of the harbour and land in Mgarr in 10 minutes flat."

The project was originally meant to get off the ground last May but the summer deadline was missed and the proprietors decided to postpone the project. The respective authorities - the Department of Civil Aviation, the MMA, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Gozo Ministry - are facilitating the company's application.

Two helicopter services to Gozo have so far ceased operations on the ground that the service was not feasible. High prices (a return ticket cost up to Lm50) meant there was low take-up for Spanish company Helisureste's service, which wound down last October.

A number of fixed wing light aircraft companies have since expressed their interest in re-establishing the air link but in an island of 26 square miles, the extension of the airstrip has always been a bone of contention for environmentalities.

A seaplane operated in Malta way back in 1915 thanks to the construction of a seaplane base in Kalafrana.

Herman Grech