With Gozo considered to be Malta’s sister island, it’s easy to think that the former could be a little cut off from the rest of the world. The truth is that Gozo is different from Malta, but that doesn’t mean that Gozo is out of the way.
Getting to Gozo
The Gozo Channel is a company that operates 4 ferries that provide a reliable crossing service between the port of Cirkewwa in Malta and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo. Operating every day of the year, with a minimum of 48 daily departures, the ferries carry 5.9 million passengers and 1.7 million vehicles annually between Malta and Gozo.
As the self-described ‘lifeline’ between the two islands, the service operates year-round, only pausing in the case of bad weather conditions (storms over 8 knots) and even then only for a matter of hours.
Mr Joe Cordina, the executive chairman of the company said, “I can’t recall a time when the service was suspended for an entire day. We usually only miss a trip or two when the weather gets really bad, and that is only until conditions improve.
“We try to improve the service all the time in line with our public service obligation. From April till November there is a virtually-guaranteed service.”
In the pursuit of providing better value, the ferry service is flexible enough to increase the number of trips per day during peak periods on an ad-hoc basis to minimise queuing times. Each crossing lasts around 25 minutes.
“The service is rigorous on compliance with EU safety regulations,” continues Mr Cordina. “We also have spot checks to make sure safety procedures are always adhered to.”
The ferry terminals at both ends offer state of the art access for disabled and elderly passengers, and all ferries are wheelchair accessible.
Gozo’s double insularity (an island off the coast of an island) is no barrier in the online world. Gozo enjoys excellent internet connectivity, with ultra fast broadband available across the island.
There is free access to broadband in a number of public areas across Gozo including local council offices, village squares and public libraries.
There is also good mobile phone network coverage throughout the island. One could say that the only time you’re out of contact in Gozo, is when you’ve switched off your mobile/internet device of your own accord!
Gozo Air Link
The island of Gozo does not have an airstrip, but it does have a helipad. However, the regular helicopter service between Malta and Gozo was discontinued in 2005. A fixed wing seaplane service operated between 2007 and 2012, but it too no longer operates regular flights. Neither seem likely to return due to the prohibitive costs involved in maintaining the service.
Debate about the construction of an airstrip on Gozo is now concluded as a public consultation process was carried and the Ministry for Gozo has submitted plans with the Planning Authority for the construction of a rural airfield. The project covers an area of over 76,000 square metres of land that is already committed to similar development purposes, and which currently incorporates the helipad and a terminal.
The existing passenger terminal will be refurbished and the current 271-metre runway extended to reach 450 metres.
Similarly, the construction of a bridge or tunnel joining Malta and Gozo has been proposed several times over the years. Feasibility studies have been conducted and numerous projects have been discussed in this regard. Also the possibility of building a bridge to Gozo was viewed by many as a possibility. It seems unlikely, however, that any such construction project will begin any time soon.