Expensive Air Malta rates hindering airline’s competitiveness - Zammit Lewis

Air Malta undergoing process to review tariffs considered ‘too high’

Air Malta is undergoing a flights tariff review to determine how to lower rates that are considered to be too high.

Addressing parliament in reply to questions raised by Opposition MPs Robert Arrigo and Antoine Borg, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis admitted that he was not satisfied with certain rates.

“Air Malta is losing work because of certain rates which are too high and which are not competitive. The process Air Malta is undergoing is not to only lower rates but to also make sure to address the airline’s competitiveness.

“The flight component that is too expensive may hinder Malta to the point that the client simply doesn’t fly over.”

The minister also confirmed that a Conference Bureau will be set up in the coming months to promote Malta as a conference destination, attracting quality tourists.

Only recently, Malta hosted a conference organised by a leading German vehicle company bringing with it 600 French concessionaires along with their families.

Zammit Lewis confirmed that his former chief of staff, Edward Zammit, was given a position of trust at the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) to strengthen the events sector.

“I now hope that this area is given a push. We will set up a Conventions Bureau to help market Malta as a conference destination. It will not compete with the destination management companies but we realised that these companies do not have enough resources to attend all fairs,” the minister said.

Borg pointed out that operators had expressed their concern over the way Air Malta was handling bookings.

The minister confirmed that the concern was justified and the airline had employed Joe Galea – who used to work at MTA’s Frankfurt office – to help improve the system by which operators are handled.

“It is indeed unacceptable that there were situations were it took Air Malta weeks to answer queries raised by operators. This is a cutthroat industry and such a situation is not acceptable,” Zammit Lewis said, adding that at time he had to personally intervene as not to lose bookings.

Robert Arrigo went on to question why Air Malta changed the flight schedules of weekend break bookings: “It’s useless scheduling a flight at 6am on Monday morning when these groups want to come to Malta just a weekend getaway.”

Once again, the minister confirmed that the points raised by the opposition were the same complaints the ministry was receiving and said that Air Malta was also working to improve its IT infrastructure to better handle cancellations.

He however said that Air Malta had provided passengers with competitive flights for weekend break packages.

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