Challenge Airlines MT brings back Flemish tapestries to Malta
Historic masterpieces have undergone meticulous and careful restoration in Belgium
The transport of priceless Flemish tapestries signifies both a celebration of history as well as the creation of a historic moment for Challenge Airlines MT: the valuable cargo was the first to be carried by the airline on its inaugural flight, having been awarded its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) by Transport Malta on November 1, 2022.
"As a mark of respect and in honour of the occasion, Challenge Airlines MT provided both the flight as well as logistical support," says an official release.
Yossi Shoukroun, CEO, Challenge Group says: "320 years ago, these valuable Flemish tapestries made their way by ship from Belgium to Malta. Today, we are honoured and delighted to have been chosen to return them again to their home in St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta."
The Flemish tapestries were welcomed at Malta from Liège, Belgium where the historic masterpieces had undergone meticulous and careful restoration on November 15, 2022, the release added.
"It is a pleasure for us to see that with a strong intervention from our Embassy in Belgium through Clint Tanti and the rest of the employees, we were able to bring these tapestries to Malta without any costs for the Maltese Government," says Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ian Borg. "Above all, these can now be enjoyed by the public and the tourists who choose to visit the St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta."
Shoukroun adds: "Not only do we have the utmost respect for this priceless and unique cargo but in a way these tapestries also reflect Challenge Group since they depict Christian art scenes from Jerusalem, Israel, and were carefully woven over a period of four years in Belgium for Grandmaster Fra Ramon Perellós y Roccaful of Malta. Hence, they combine the three countries where Challenge Group has set up hubs and for which we hold Air Operator Certificates."
Challenge Airlines MT, registered as 9H, owns a fleet of two B767-300ER, each capable of uplifting a payload of 60 tonnes, the release said. Ten pilots are stationed at the Group's headquarter in Malta, ready to operate regular flights between Liège, Tel Aviv, Sharjah, New York and the Indian Subcontinent.
Challenge Group employs 850 people across three airlines (including Challenge Airlines IL in Israel and Challenge Airlines BE in Belgium), a commercial division (Challenge Air Cargo) in Malta, a ground handling company (Challenge Handling) in Liege, Belgium, a European road feeder provider (Challenge Logistics) in Liege, Belgium, an aircraft and parts leasing division (Challenge Aviation), and a comprehensive line maintenance provider (Challenge Technic). The company has tripled its capacity over the past four years and now handles 300,000+ tonnes of cargo per year, the release said.