Decision to axe Frankfurt route down to ‘weak performance’, Air Malta board insists

Board of directors deny media reports that decision to axe Frankfurt route was ‘a step to please Alitalia’

Air Malta flights to Frankfurt will stop as from next March
Air Malta flights to Frankfurt will stop as from next March

Air Malta’s board of directors has insisted that their decision to stop the airline from flying to Frankfurt was based on the route’s weak performance.

“Frequencies on this route had already been reduced from daily to four weekly last summer, well before any negotiations with Alitalia had started. Over the past years other airport hubs including Munich, on which coincidentally Air Malta is increasing frequencies from July 2017 with up to double daily, have increased their connectivity network,” the national airline said.

The directors were reacting to reports by the Times of Malta that the decision to stop the flights as from next March “is a step to please Alitalia and lure it to conclude negotiation on buying as stake in the Maltese airline”.

Rubbishing the story, the board of directors said that The Times of Malta’s report “does not make sense particularly since the airline will be increasing frequencies next summer on other key non-Italian connecting hubs of Munich, Amsterdam, Brussels, Vienna and Zurich”.

The report claimed that Alitalia is insisting that Air Malta uses its network to increase passengers to its hubs in Rome and Milan. The first step of this strategy was a new codeshare agreement between Air Malta and Alitalia which came into force, without publicity, at the beginning of this month.

In their statement, the board condemned the “sensational report”, stating that route and frequency changes are solely based on commercial considerations.

“Air Malta deploys its capacity on routes that provide the best possible return on investment,” it said, adding that aircraft capacity was a finite resource and flight schedules are changed and tweaked every season to take advantage of new opportunities, maximise resources and increase efficiency. “Network decisions for the summer 2017 flight schedule were taken independently of any strategic partnership discussions with Alitalia.”

The board went on to add that Air Malta’s summer 2017 schedule will see the airline increase frequencies on a number of key popular routes including Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Vienna, Zurich, Rome, Catania, Lyon, Palermo, Prague and Moscow. The airline will operate with up to double daily flights in peak summer to Munich, Rome and Catania.

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