The MAviO Awards were started on an initiative spearheaded by flight instructor Chris Cauchi, together with Dr Francesca Galea and Captain Sinclair Portelli. The first edition was held in 2012 with two Libyan heroes being honoured for going beyond their call of duty. These were Captain Philip Apap Bologna who had performed the last Air Malta flight out of Tripoli before rebels took over the capital in the Maghreb country and Abdulrazagh Zmirli who was then at the helm of Medavia during these very turbulent times. The awards were initially known as the World Airnews Awards, however as the event grew in stature, it was decided to make them more relevant to the ever changing Maltese aviation landscape, hence the renaming to MAviO Awards. Other notable winners over the years have included Richard J Caruana, who was Malta’s first accredited aviation journalist. His pioneering work opened up the road to other aviation journalists that followed in his footsteps. Other Maltese aviation pioneers who have been given due recognition for the sterling work done have included Ray Polidano who has painstakingly set up the aviation museum in Ta’ Qali and also Joe Ciliberti, the President of the Malta Aviation Society and the man behind the Malta Airshow.
The nominations open in November and close in mid-February giving ample time to the Select Committee to delve into each nomination. Dr Francesca Galea chairs the Select Committee where she is ably assisted by university lecturer Riccardo Flask and Captain Sinclair Portelli. It is always a very difficult task to choose the winners for the three categories that make up the MAviO Awards, namely Aviator of the Year, Leader of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award. As Dr Galea puts it quite rightly “this industry plays a pivotal role in our economic growth. Our awards have been long overdue. They are the best token of appreciation one could possibly aspire to receive when working in this line of business in Malta.”