Despite the decrease in passenger movements due to the air travel disruption caused by a volcanic eruption, Malta Int'l Airport will not be altering its forecast for the year at this time, CEO Julian Jäger said on Friday. The disruption, caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, led to the cancellation of 336 flights to and from Malta, resulting in a loss of around 35,000 passenger movements for the airport.
However, the airport did not deem it opportune to alter its forecasts for the year, although it will be monitoring the ongoing effect until necessary and will be reviewing the situation as usual around mid-July.
To handle the situation, M.I.A. deployed additional staff to ensure smooth queue management and to deal with customer requests for information. It also set up more free internet access terminals for passengers to be able to rebook their travel arrangements online, and offered complimentary refreshments and respite facilities for mothers with infants.
Mr Jäger acknowledged that Air Malta’s contribution was "evidently crucial to assist stranded passengers within the limits of operational safety." The airline operated 60 relief flights, while Thomsonfly operated 4 extra flights and easyJet, FlyLAL, Jet Time and Thomas Cook UK each operated 2 extra flights in an effort to alleviate the backlog of stranded passengers.
He said that the situation highlighted the strategic importance of the national airline for connectivity of the Maltese islands with the world beyond.
The M.I.A. CEO said that it appeared that Europe may not have been prepared to deal with such a situation, and said that he expected civil aviation authorities across Europe to strive harder in order to devise a plan dealing with similar incidents in the future.