Thursday, May 13, 2021

SmartLynx Malta to adds five A330s with seats removed to target cargo

SmartLynx Airlines Malta is expanding its fleet with the addition of five Airbus A330 aircraft with seats removed as it looks to capitalise on high air cargo demand.

The ACMI and charter firm said that the aircraft will be added in May and June and will expand its fleet types beyond its existing A320 and A321 aircraft.

The updated A330 aircraft will carry cargo to and from Asia, U.S. and Europe.  They have a volume capacity of 260 cu m and a maximum cargo weight of 50,000kg.

The aircraft will be leased to sister company SmartLynx Airlines as it looks to expand in the cargo market — it will be one of the first airlines to operate converted A321 aircraft.

"We understand that eventually the long-haul cargo market will return to the pre-Covid levels, so SmartLynx Airlines plan to return the A330 to operate on long-haul passenger flights once that time comes.  We believe that our low-cost structure and great efficiency will allow us to create competition to market veterans," said Z. Surintas, chief executive of SmartLynx Airlines.

(Source: aircargonews.net, 13-May-2021)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Last German AF C160 for 2021 Malta International Airshow

A historical occasion at the Malta International Airshow is planned to occur at this year's event.  The German Air Force is sending the last operational C-160D Transall to Malta's show and this will be the last-ever public event for this aircraft in German AF service after a career stretching over 50 years.  The Malta Int'l Airshow Team is thrilled to be part of such history and thanks the German AF and the German Embassy for sharing a momentous occasion with us.

(Source: maltairshow.com, 12-May-2021)


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Malta IAP holds its 29th Annual General Meeting

Malta International Airport today held its 29th Annual General Meeting remotely, during which the company’s performance for the year ended 31-Dec-2020 as well as year-to-date traffic results were presented.

In his opening address, Malta IAP Chairman Mr N. Gretzmacher said that while nothing could have fully prepared the company for the unforeseen events of 2020, a decade of solid financial and traffic results had equipped Malta IAP with resilience to withstand the shocks of a crisis that brought the global aviation industry to its knees.

Mr Gretzmacher went on to note that the huge impact of the pandemic on the company's aviation and non-aviation activities had led revenue generated during the year under review to shrink by a staggering €68 million compared to 2019.  However, the timely implementation of a cost-cutting and liquidity preservation programme had enabled Malta IAP to soften the financial blow of the crisis and close the year with a net loss of €4.3 million.

Taking the floor after the Chairman, CEO Mr A. Borg gave a more in-depth review of the company's financial performance during 2020, following which the focus shifted to 2021.  Between January and April 2021, Malta IAP welcomed merely 137,887 passengers, signalling a drop of 92.6% over the same comparable period in 2019.

"2021 has been off to a challenging and slow start, but we are confident that the second half of the year will be better. Malta's strong vaccination drive is positioning the island as a safe leisure destination with both prospective travellers and airlines.  In fact, this summer, we expect almost 20 carriers – three of them being newcomers – to connect Malta IAP to more than 90 airports," said Mr Borg, whilst highlighting that the success of airport's summer schedule is highly dependent on the easing or removal of existing travel restrictions.

Mr Borg also welcomed the European Commission's recent proposal to ease restrictions on non-essential travel from outside the E.U. as another important step, in addition to ongoing trialogue negotiations on the Digital Green Certificate, towards the boosting of consumer confidence in air travel and the revival of the industry.

During the Annual General Meeting, it was revealed that, looking ahead, the company will continue to prioritise strategic investments whose immediate return can support Malta IAP's short to medium-term recovery.  The company’s commitment to continue working closely with government and partner airlines on restoring the island’s connectivity in a sustainable manner was also underscored as a priority in Malta IAP's recovery journey.

(Source: maltairport.com, 5-May-2021)

Cyprus Airways to commence Larnaca-Malta service in Jun-21

Cyprus Airways, the national flag carrier brand of Cyprus, continues to increase the number of its direct flights from Larnaca with the launch of its new direct flights between Larnaca and Malta, enhancing Mediterranean interconnectivity.

The inaugural flight from Larnaca to Malta will take off on June 27th, with the schedule flying twice weekly to Malta International Airport every Wednesday and Sunday until the end of October. Some new routes are expected to be announced soon.

(Source: Cyprus Airways, 4-May-2021)

Monday, May 3, 2021

E.U. border agency Frontex to deploy drone from Malta

A large drone is to be deployed from Malta in a multi-million euro mission that E.U. border protection agency Frontex hopes will help support longer rescue operations.

The agency last year awarded contracts totalling €100 million to Airbus and an Israeli arms company to operate remotely piloted aircraft systems for maritime aerial surveillance services.

A drone carried out a test flight from Malta IAP Friday, according to a source who provided photos of the aircraft.

"Often our planes have to return to base because of fuel limits, something that we saw last week when a Frontex plane spotted a boat in distress and alerted all Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres in the area," a spokesperson for Frontex said.

"When we learned that Italy had dispatched three merchant vessels, the plane had to return to base as it was running low on fuel and was in danger due to increasingly strong winds."

The drone will be used purely for border surveillance purposes and will not carry weapons, the spokesperson said.

Frontex was asked when the service will start to be provided from the island, which areas will come under surveillance, and which authority will be alerted to migrant movements.

The Frontex spokesperson said that it was too early to discuss such details. As with airplanes or boats used by the agency however, whenever a boat in distress is spotted, Frontex alerts all relevant national rescue centres, he said.

"We do hope that the drones will allow us to support rescue operations for longer periods of time," he added.

Times of Malta was unable to confirm if similar Frontex drones will also operate out of Greece and Italy.

In the central Mediterranean region, the rescue coordination centres are in Italy, Malta, Libya and Tunisia. In the most urgent cases, Frontex also issues an open distress call to all ships in the area of the search and rescue event.

Questions sent to the home and foreign affairs ministries remained unanswered.

(Source: timesofmalta.com, 3-May-2021)