Air Malta sales a fifth of what they were during normal times

The national airline has received an ‘encouraging’ response following its decision to fly to 22 destinations but bookings are still a far cry from normality

Air Malta will be flying to 22 destinations this summer
Air Malta will be flying to 22 destinations this summer

Air Malta bookings are a fifth of what they were during normal times but the response has been described as “immediate and encouraging” by industry sources.

With travel restrictions lifted from 1 July and Air Malta announcing an ambitious flight schedule to 22 destinations, the airline has made an average of more than 1,000 sales daily, MaltaToday has learnt.

“The numbers are encouraging but obviously still a far cry from the 4,000 to 5,000 sales daily before COVID-19 hit,” the sources said.

Air Malta will recommence its summer schedule on 1 July with flights to Rome, Lyon, Marseille, Prague, Catania, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Zurich and Geneva.

From the 15 July, when all other flight restrictions are lifted, Air Malta will also fly to Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan, London Heathrow, Lisbon, Madrid, Palermo, and Paris Charles De Gaulle and Orly. In August, the national airline will restart flights to Manchester.

Industry observers told MaltaToday that hopes for a tourism revival this summer have tanked, with people in Malta’s main source markets having ditched holiday plans.

“In the key source markets, schools restart towards the end of August so most people normally take their holidays in July, which means that plans for this summer would have been disrupted, apart from restrictions that are still in place in countries like the UK,” the sources said.

But the industry is gearing up for an aggressive campaign to attract travellers in the winter months. Sources said Air Malta was engaging with stakeholders to get the ball rolling.

Tourism has taken one of the biggest hits as a result of travel bans and restrictions imposed to stymie the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines have sustained major losses, not least Air Malta, which has put employees on a social wage and made 69 pilots redundant.

In comments to MaltaToday, Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said that her ministry has worked closely with the Economy Ministry under whose wing Air Malta falls, to map out an aviation strategy.

“The flight schedule published by Air Malta confirms once again, if ever there was need, the importance for an island state like Malta to have a national airline that serves the needs of the country ahead of the pursuit of profits. This schedule is crucial for Malta's tourism industry and the thousands whose income is dependent on tourism,” she said.

She acknowledged the months ahead were challenging and all stakeholders had to raise the bar and provide the best possible service to guests.

Farrugia Portelli said Air Malta was at the forefront of re-establishing the air links between Malta and its source markets.

“As it has always done over all the years that it has served our islands, Air Malta will be a major vehicle transporting tourists to our shores and connecting Malta with major cities and airports to ensure that tourism to Malta restarts in a strong and positive manner,” she added. 

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