Malta Airport Foundation funds restoration of Combined Operations Room in Valletta

The Malta Airport Foundation has announced that it will be restoring the Combined Operations Rooms within the underground war headquarters in Valletta, in collaboration with Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.

Built in the early stages of the Air Battle for Malta in 1940, the Combined Operations Room was where some of the key military figures of the time worked from and took crucial decisions, which helped the strategically located island emerge victorious from what was to become one of the greatest battles of World War II.

With a contribution of over €334,000 to the project, the restoration of the Combined Operations Rooms is the Foundation’s heftiest investment in Malta’s heritage to date. The project focuses on part of an underground complex consisting of rooms and tunnels, which served as the island’s nerve centre from where war was waged against the Axis powers and went on being used well into the 1970s. The complex covers an area of 28,000 square metres and spreads right underneath the Upper Barrakka Gardens all the way to St Peter and Paul Counterguard across Valletta’s main ditch.

“In getting on board with this project, we are once again highlighting our commitment to invest in Malta’s history and heritage, which in turn makes our island a more attractive destination for tourists and a richer place for locals to live in,” said Malta Airport Foundation Chairman, Fredrick Mifsud Bonnici.

Moreover, being the first operations room to simultaneously play both defensive and offensive roles, the significance of the Combined Operations Room stretches even beyond Malta’s history, making it an important point of reference in combined operations training. After the war, the complex went on to be used by NATO as a submarine tracking centre and had an active role in the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It was permanently closed in 1977.

As part of this extensive project, a number of rooms which have fallen into disrepair since their wartime heyday, will be restored. Once the project is completed, these rooms will be accessible to the public via guided tours and essentially serve as one big museum of times gone by.

“The restored Combined Operations Room and its adjacent rooms will surely add further value to Valletta at a time when it will be enjoying the spotlight as the European Capital of Culture,” Mr Fredrick Mifsud Bonnici went on to say.

Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna CEO, Mario Farrugia, said: “Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna is very excited to work on this project with the Malta Airport Foundation and is grateful for the financial assistance that it is receiving for it.”

The Malta Airport Foundation was set up in 2014 to independently manage and implement Malta International Airport’s Corporate Responsibility (CR) projects and investments for maximum impact and transparency.