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)

Saturday, May 1, 2021

20 airlines to connect Malta with 90 destinations

As Malta prepares to open to tourism in a month’s time, the Malta International Airport is expected to welcome 20 airlines who, between them, will link Malta with 90 destinations during summer.

Interviewed by Television Malta, the company’s chief executive A. Borg said that the good rate of vaccination places Malta in the forefront for a summer tourism period.  The situation is fluid and much different from previous years when the summer schedule was closed between six and four months before.

“Various countries currently have restrictions, that is the numbers should be taken in the context of the information available now.  Without restrictions these things will happen; with restrictions they may change”.

He stated that this is a major factor that determines whether the airline operates or cancels a flight.  Comparing next summer’s schedule with the last good summer for tourism, Mr Borg said: “When comparing the 90 destinations with those of summer 2019, which were 130, I say that the government, MTA and our team did a very good job so that Malta will be on the radar of principle airlines in Europe”.

However, he added that the company is giving the highest priority to provide assurances to workers, other persons working at the airport and passengers about their health and safety.

Referring to the vaccination rollout success in Malta, MIA’s chief executive said that technology is an important tool to facilitate travel and suggested that an app is developed by next month with which passengers traveling to Malta will be able to fill before the requested information and send the form so that he will have a relaxing experience when he arrives in the country.

“Today, when passengers arrive they present the passenger locator form, health declaration card, and evidence they have the negative PCR test, depending on the country, however typically 72 hours before. I think that if a passenger fills at home this information which is verified before he arrives, he will not wait in queues and this makes a great difference.”

(Source: tvm.com.mt, 1-May-2021)

Friday, April 30, 2021

Air Malta launches its summer 2021 flight schedule

Today Air Malta launched its summer flight schedule with a planned operation to 20 cities.  During the six-month program (covering May till October 2021), the airline is committed to operate 3,012 flights and will offer for sale over half a million seats.

Commenting on this plan, Air Malta's CCO R. Kinnear stated, "This schedule delivers a strong message of commitment by the airline towards the local and international tourism industry.  The schedule focuses on Malta's core markets for inbound tourism and is in line with Air Malta's strategy of being a point-to-point carrier operating to major European cities and major airports attaching to larger network airlines through key interline partnerships and code-sharing agreements."

This summer the airline will operate direct flights to/from Amsterdam, Brussels, Catania, Frankfurt, Geneva, Lisbon, London-Heathrow, Lyon, Manchester, Munich, Milan Linate, Moscow*, Palermo, Paris-Charles De Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Prague, Rome, Tel Aviv*, Vienna, and Zurich. (* - operations to these airports is subject to the opening of safe corridors)

Key highlights during peak season include:

·       Up to 10 weekly services on London-Heathrow.

·       Twice weekly services to Manchester, supporting the Midlands and North of the UK.

·       Up to 11 weekly services on Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris.

·       Up to 9 weekly services on Catania.

·       Rome, Munich, and Vienna all served up to 5 times weekly.

Speaking about recent developments, Air Malta's Executive Chairman D.G. Curmi said, "We are happy to note the gradual increase of consumer confidence and propensity to travel this summer.  This increase, driven primarily by the success of the vaccination roll-outs in many countries, especially in Malta, augurs well for an easing of travel restrictions and a restart in tourism this summer. We are happy to be part of the process and help re-open our Islands to tourism".

(Source: Air Malta, 30-Apr-2021)