Air Malta Cuts Flights Without Suspending Any Routes

Malta national flag carrier Air Malta has decided to cut the number of frequencies to all of its winter destinations but will not drop any of its routes. In a statement issued today, Air Malta says that following a dramatic decrease in bookings, it plans to consolidate flights during January and February.

Air Malta Airbus A320neo Getty
Air Malta presently has four Airbus A320neos in its fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Air Malta says that none of the 16 routes it flies from its home base at Malta International Airport (MLA) will be dropped. There will, however, be a reduction of flights on specific routes. The move by Air Malta is designed to help the airline better handle a reduction in the number of people traveling due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Air Malta wants to avoid flying near-empty planes

Air Malta says that, unlike other airlines that fly to Malta, it has no plans to cancel any routes, including those it plans to operate next summer. When speaking about the decision to cut back flights in the company statement, Air Malta Executive Chairman David Curmi said:

“We are taking such decisions to match customer demand and avoid flying near-empty aircraft. Such assessments are ongoing and will continue until demand returns to healthy levels. In these situations, we need to be very agile and financially disciplined to be able to adjust seat capacity and focus on efficiency to protect our liquidity and cash performance. Given the unprecedented times we are living in and the challenges that Air Malta is facing, we are continuously optimizing our network for profitability and liquidity, and we plan to continue to do so without compromises.”

When speaking about peoples worries over air freight to the island nation, the Air Malta executive wanted to assure everyone that Air Malta was committed to this, adding:

“Air Malta is committed to remaining an all-year-round vital link to mainland Europe not only for travel and tourism but also for the transfer of urgent medical cargo, mail, and other import and export freight required for our various industries.”

Reduced booking and cancelations due to Omicron

When speaking about the need for consolidation and how COVID-19 and specifically the Omicron variant of the virus had led to the decision, Air Malta Chief Commercial Officer Roy Kinnear said:

“Following the surge of the Omicron variant and the introduction of lockdowns or partial lockdowns and travel restrictions across much of Europe, Air Malta saw a slowdown in new bookings and received a number of cancellations for travel over the holiday period and in January and February. The cancellations came across most of Air Malta’s markets with varying degree.

“These fluctuating trends have been typical last year, with markets opening and closing depending on threat levels. The combination of the current slowdown in bookings and with January and February being naturally lower demand months has unfortunately driven an increased level of frequency consolidation compared to previously anticipated, but commercially necessary to do so.”

Air Malta route map
Air Malta route map. Image: Air Malta

With Malta being a seasonal vacation destination must airlines that fly to Malta do so during the peak holiday months of June, July, and August. During the winter months, most airlines either stop flying to Malta altogether or dramatically cut back on the number of frequencies. By being Malta’s national airline, Air Malta is committed to keeping the island connected to European city’s and will do so year-round.

About Air Malta

Air Malta was formed in 1947 following the merger of Malta Instone Airline, BAS (Malta) Ltd, and Malta Airlines. For decades Air Malta struggled but announced a profit of 1.2 million euros in 2018. This was the first time in 18 years that AirMalta could end the year in the black. Despite operating various aircraft over the years, Air Malta is now an all-Airbus airline with a fleet of three Airbus A320-200s and four Airbus A320-200neos.

Airbus A321LR
Air Malta wants to use Airbus A321LRs for long-haul flights. Image: Airbus

Before the pandemic hit, Air Malta was working on a fleet renewal plan to replace its older planes with newer Airbus A320neos and the introduction of long-range Airbus A321LR aircraft. With the new single-aisle jets, Air Malta planned to fly to North America and destinations in Asia.

What do you think about Air Malta consolidating flights during January and February? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.