First signs of summer recovery as MIA traffic resumes

Malta recovering slowly in comparison to other Southern European countries

Total traffic for the first four months of 2021 at Malta International Airport was comparable to only a single average week in the same period in 2019, mainly due to the strict travel restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

May showed the first signs of recovery, as several airlines commenced their summer operations, and a number of routes within important markets; like France, Italy and Spain resumed. 

June saw a total of 190,505 passengers travelling through the airport, which meant a 153% increase compared to May.

“This positive trend continued throughout June and into July spurred by the gradual easing of travel restrictions which, in turn, led to the release of a pent-up demand for air travel. However, the introduction of a blanket quarantine requirement for unvaccinated travellers in mid-July dealt an instant blow to the performance of the local tourism industry,” MIA head of traffic development Alex Cardona said.

Cardona highlighted the return of several airlines and the upcoming start of a cruise and fly operation as encouraging votes of confidence in Malta, both in terms of attractiveness and in dealing with the pandemic. 

Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg said traffic performance for the first half of the year has been significantly impacted by the lack of uniformity in travel restrictions imposed by governments across Europe. “Malta’s current travel regulations are not positioning the island as an easy destination of choice with travellers looking to book a Mediterranean holiday.”

The data provided by the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe data shows that during the period between May and 16 July, Malta underperformed (-75.9% to -63.8%) in terms of recovery, when compared to the average for the Southern European countries.

According to Borg, this resulted from strict travel restrictions and the unavailability of domestic travel in Malta. “Despite the fast-changing aviation landscape, which is being dominated by uncertainty and short-term planning, the company’s commitment to continue working with partner airlines and tourism stakeholders towards a sustainable recovery remains unchanged.”