Updated | Three new airlines to start flying to Malta next summer

Over four million passengers passed through Malta International Airport in 2015 • MIA forecasts 2.4% passenger growth in 2016 • 'The government's plan for Air Malta is to open up to as many different markets as possible' - Edward Zammit Lewis

Air Malta CEO Alan Borg, tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis and MTA CEO Paul Bugeja
Air Malta CEO Alan Borg, tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis and MTA CEO Paul Bugeja

Three new airlines are expected to start flying next summer, including Volotea to Catania, Iberia Express to Madrid and Czech Republic to Prague.

Addressing a news conference, Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg also presented the traffic results for 2015: a total of 4,618,642 passengers passed through MIA in 2015.

It also expects at least 4.73 million passengers during 2016 – a 2.4% increase over last year.

Borg added that EasyJet will launch a new route to Geneva and Ryaniar will be expanding their operations by another 10 routes in summer, including Poznan, Baden-Baden and Cologne.

Flights will be added to Athens, Budapest and Helsinki through Aegean, Wizzair and Finnair respectively.

The top markets for 2015 remained the United Kingdom – which saw an increase of 4,7% - Italy and Germany.

Borg explained that the increases in the UK market had been attributed to increased activity by British Airways, and that Air Malta, and Ryanair had both increased their trips to Italy. He added however, that the increase in Germany had been mostly due to added tour cruises, and that there were plans to further focus on the sector.

Substantial increases were also registered from Turkey (82.7%), Poland (50.1%) and Switzerland (18.7%).

Commenting on the results, Tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis said that he was “not impressed” by results achieved in the German sector and that he felt that more could go into connectivity and marketing in the country.

Borg explained that added flights and destinations in the country were a reaction to these figures, and that MIA had also identified strategic routes it wanted to work on in the future, namely, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Portugal, Spain and possibly even Russia.

Zammit Lewis said that the MIA had achieved extremely positive results, and that it had managed to retain positive results despite the stumbling blocks that the Libyan and Russian markets had presented over the year.

“The past year has already proven effective in fighting the issues of seasonality, with October, a usually rather weak month, registering some 421,723 arrivals last year,” Zammit Lewis said, adding that the shoulder months in particular had registered a 7.4%.  

'The government's plan for Air Malta is to open up to as many different markets as possible' - Tourism Minister

Commenting on the performance of Air Malta in particular, Zammit Lewis said, that the airline had suffered due to the conflict in Libya and the political uncertainty around Russia, but that the national airline had secured a minimal drop of 0.6% in spite of this.

“The airline managed to capitalize by adding more flights to Amsterdam, as well as increasing destinations in Italy,” Borg said.

Zammit Lewis commented that the national airline would follow a similar business plan to the one followed by the MIA; that of expanding to other locations and not relying merely on staple markets.

“We want a strategic partner that guarantees a bigger network for the airline,” he said.

Speaking to Malta Today later on, Zammit Lewis said that talks held last week had established a team run by president emeritus George Abela to discuss the future of Air Malta employees in light of the upcoming agreement.