Airport regrets delays as manual COVID checks cause long queues at arrivals hall

Malta International Airport is calling on the health authorities to digitalise the COVID document checks on incoming passengers to avoid delays

Stills from a passenger video of the long queues at MIA
Stills from a passenger video of the long queues at MIA

Paper checks of COVID health documents at the airport are causing delays, Malta International Airport said, calling on the health authorities to digitalise the system.

The company said it regretted the “inconvenience and anxiety” suffered by travellers arriving in Malta as a result of the long queues that are forming at the airport.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, MIA referred to photos of queues at the airport baggage reclaim area and arrivals hall, which were circulating in the media.

“Malta International Airport is aware of this unacceptable situation, and deeply regrets the inconvenience and anxiety suffered by guests who were caught up prior to start of their stay in Malta,” MIA said.

The company said the queues were the result of COVID vaccine certificate and test result checks, which are paper based. The checks are imposed by the Maltese health authorities as part of safety measures to reduce the risk of importing COVID-19 cases.

The company reiterated its calls for the verification process to be digitalised.

“MIA would like to once again call on the Superintendent of Public Health to digitalise the health document verification process completely without further delay. This afternoon’s queues at arrivals clearly show that the current paper based checks are clearly inadequate and untenable,” the company said.

It also appealed for stronger legislation to enforce the use of digital health declarations and certificates by travellers, which will in turn facilitate health screening processes on the ground.

So far, Malta is only accepting PCR tests from foreigners travelling to Malta and these would have to be done not more than 72 hours before entry into Malta.

COVID vaccine certificates issued by other countries are not yet accepted but Health Minister Chris Fearne said earlier this week that Malta will be ready to join the EU digital pass on 1 July.

Maltese and residents of Malta will be able to use the COVID vaccine certificate issued by the Maltese health authorities to re-enter the country.