Q1 2009 has been negative and this was mainly due to a lack of seat capacity, moreover comparisons between March 2008 and March 2009 are complicated by the general elections traffic in Malta in 2008, as well as the timing of Easter, which also fell in March last year and will this year fall in April .
Julian Jaeger CEO of Malta Int'l Airport has reiterated “The drop in passenger figures in the first quarter was expected, in actual fact in our forecast we even expected it to be worse, therefore we find no reason to rethink our predictions at this point whereby we have gauged a -5.5% by end year. In April we should be expecting to see a changing picture for the better, however Summer will no doubt be crucial”.
Indeed despite the current decline faced by other European airports, M.I.A. in collaboration with MTA has managed to secure last summer’s seat capacity. The estimated seat capacity for summer 2009 is positive and is expected to reach 3,063,059 an increase of 0.80% when compared to last year’s summer period.
The analysed airline schedule for the beginning of the Summer season for over 600 European airports indicated that seat capacity is down by around 4.8% (Source: OAG)
In the case of M.I.A. it is worth recording that the current carriers, Vueling flying to Madrid and Click Air to Barcelona have re-confirmed their routes for summer 2009.
Moreover Airmalta has repositioned their twelfth aircraft in Malta and will be increasing frequency into its existing network with additional flights to the UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria. The national carrier will also be launching four new routes; Verona, Stuttgart, Paris CDG and Warsaw giving more opportunities to travellers and accessibility to Malta as a destination. Furthermore, Ryanair has replaced Bremen with Bari whilst flights to Trapani will double to four per week. Earlier in the month this airline also introduced two weekly flights to Edinburgh. In July, Ryanair will be adding Bristol to their existing routes and will offer the service twice weekly.
Also, SAS has just launched flights to Stockholm, and will operate this route twice weekly. Besides EasyJet’s current schedule, two weekly routes to Newcastle will be commencing in May. During Summer Air Nostrum, a new operator, will provide three weekly flights to Madrid.
The total passenger movements on scheduled and non-scheduled flights in March 2009 was of 183,984 a decline of 42,556 when compared to March 2008. Likewise, both aircraft movements and cargo & mail figures registered a decline of 15.6% and 9.4% respectively.
Passenger traffic for the three main markets, U.K., Italy and Germany, decreased by 9.5%, 19.5% and 31.0% respectively.
(Malta International Airport plc)