Friday, October 31, 2014

Refurbished AFM Air Wing hangar inaugurated

The refurbished and upgraded Hangar 3 (ex-RAF Hangar) and supporting facilities at the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) Air Wing has been inaugurated.

AFM Commander J. Curmi said more than €2 million were invested in the project to bring the Air Wing facilities to a standard that would reflect the technologically advanced assets recently purchased by the AFM and improve personnel environment. The facilities will host the two newly acquired AW 139 helicopters.

National Security Minister M. Mallia described the project as "a dream come true" for the AFM. The hangar, he said, was a monument that reflected the AFM’s hard work to ensure national security and for border control. These vital roles needed the highest possible standards for the maintenance of the modern air assets which would be provided by this new investment.

This project was coordinated by the Logistics Branch at HQ AFM, headed by Col. P. Vassallo and administered by Lt. Col. C. Attard and Lt. Col. R. Vella. The Ex RAF hangar project was funded through the General Programme: Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows 2007-2013 with a co-financing rate of 75% EU funds and 25% national funds. (Source:, 31-Oct-2014)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Air Malta halves its yearly loss to €16 million

Air Malta halved its losses during the financial year ending March 2014 and is projecting to maintain its position for the year ending March 2015, despite several major setbacks such as the closure of the Libyan routes and increased competition in the peak summer months.

Audited figures announced during the Air Malta Annual General Meeting showed that the airline posted a loss of €16 million (US$20.3 million) for the year ending at the end of March 2014, compared to €31 million (US$39.4 million) loss registered during the financial year ending at the end of March 2013.

The numbers show that Air Malta is moving in the right direction according to its Restructuring Plan, although it did not manage to reach the more ambitious annual targets of a €15 million loss in 2013 and a profit in 2014.

Air Malta chairperson M.a Micallef said the current financial year had been directly hit by the closure of the Libyan routes (losing the airline around €1 million per month, including incremental revenue from transit business) and a 20% increase in seat capacity of other airlines in the peak months.

“We were informed that our revenues would be hit by 10% and the bottom line was forecasted to be a loss of €25 million, unless immediate preventive actions were taken. We set ourselves a target that under these circumstances we try and target a bottom line of a loss of €16 million for Year ending March 2015,” said Ms Micallef, who was appointed chairperson in July.

Ms Micallef also highlighted the importance of thinking about the long term strategy of Air Malta, beyond the restructuring plan.

“In the longer term, it remains clear to me that the realities of the industry are such that the airline’s profit margins will always remain wafer thin unless we rethink our business model to truly ensure viability. We need to get out of restructuring mode and start thinking of long-term sustainability beyond 2016. We will need the economies of scale that we can never achieve with our size,” she said.

“If we are to make this work – and I am confident we will – we need everyone’s support. In some cases, this means holding back. That is my message to politicians, both Government and Opposition. The same applies to all the representatives of the various stakeholders, who for the first time have been invited to this AGM.”

“The reality is that this is Air Malta’s last chance for long term survival. We have 17 months left to get this right,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, newly-appointed CEO Philip Micallef outlined his vision for the airline and highlighted a number of initiatives being taken to bring the airline to profitability by 2016.

“One of the key missions of this new management team is to work much more closely with Malta Tourism Authority and other key stakeholders. MTA and Air Malta have a joint responsibility to attract tourism to the Maltese islands. In the past, the two entities complemented each other’s work but did not combine their resources as effectively as they could. We are holding joint meetings with tourism operators in various markets as Air Malta seeks to intensify its presence in foreign markets. We have entered into a new era of positive collaboration,” he said.

Similar joint initiatives are happening with Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) and Federated Association of Travel & Tourism Agents (FATTA).

“Our approach has been particularly successful with German tour operators, where committed seats have increased by 300% in winter 2014/15. Similar encouraging results are already being achieved on our Amsterdam and Brussels routes. Our code-share with Air France is doing even better, with a ten-fold increase in passenger revenue,” Mr Micallef told the AGM.

“At the end of summer we launched an aggressive promotion with a 25% discount, for travel from November 2014, to get early bookings for winter. In aggregate, early bookings for winter strongly indicate that we could start to mitigate the losses in passengers from Libya and slow-down in Russia through increased sales on other routes,” he said.

Mr Micallef said Air Malta now needed to improve its IT systems to facilitate customer experience and increase revenue by providing a more attractive pricing system for passengers.

“In the face of increased supply on some of our core routes during the peak summer months, we must respond by taking advantage of additional revenue streams. We are starting with generating ancillary revenue pre-flight through product enhancements and the right technology to promote the sale of these products. We are also looking at developing ancillary products while on board,” he said.

(Source: AirMalta, 28-Oct-2014)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Aegean Airlines to start Athens-Malta flights next year

Greek private airline Aegean Airlines is to start flights to Malta IAP in the summer season next year from its hub at Athens IAP. The airline said it intends to initially operate to Malta on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in the afternoon. It eventually plans to add another flight on Sunday (Source:, 24-Oct-2014)

Al-Naser Airlines wet-leases an A346 from Hi Fly (Malta)

Iraq's Al-Naser Airlines has taken delivery of its maiden A340-600 9H-TEQ (cn 416), formerly with Virgin Atlantic as G-VOGE. The quadjet, which was ferried from Malta to Baghdad on Oct. 18th, is on wet-lease from Hi Fly subsidiary, Hi Fly Malta, which in turn sourced it from Voltrex Leasing.

According to a statement issued to ch-aviation by Hi Fly Malta, the lease agreement is only temporary as its long term plans for the aircraft involve its reconfiguration into a 475-seater to be used for Hajj operations. 

"Until reconfiguration Supplemental Type Certificate is approved, which might take up to one year, Hi Fly is subleasing the aircraft to Al-Naser in current configuration with crew and maintenance support to supplement their current fleet of A346s that are planned to be operated for Iraqi Airways," it said. (Source:, 24-Oct-2014)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ryanair B738 returns to Malta IAP after reporting a problem with the nose gear

A Ryanair Boeing B737-800 (EI-EPC), performing flight FR-6696 from Malta IAP to Edinburgh (U.K.) had to return back to Malta IAP yesterday evening after reporting a problem with the nose gear. The aircraft departed from RWY 13 at 1955lt, levelled off at 8000 feet to troubleshoot the problem and then to dump fuel, and re-landed safely RWY 13 at 2137lt. The stranded passengers where later trasferred to one of Ryanair's Malta-based B738s (EI-EVN) to operate the flight to Edinburgh. It departed Malta IAP at 0029lt (on 18th). 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SWISS to launch Zurich-Malta route in summer 2015

SWISS today announced the launch of 19 routes across Europe in summer 2015 season. Amongst these new routes, is the luanching of the new route between Zurich and Malta IAP with effect from Jul. 1st, 2015. SWISS will be operating four weekly flights, Zurich-Malta-Zurich, using Airbus A320s. (Source:, 7-Oct-2014)

M.I.A. plc releases traffic results for September 2014

Malta IAP registered a 2.4% increase in traffic last month, hosting a total of 463,215 passengers. The growth is seen in light of the closure of the Libyan airspace since mid-July, which has resulted in a passenger drop within this market.

During September, the total number of landings and take-offs at the airport increased by 0.9% to 3,199 while the number of people that could be flown to and from Malta (seat capacity) grew marginally by 1.1% to 540,423.  

France was the market to register the largest growth at 11.1%, thanks to increased demand on the Paris route. Traffic from Italy and U.K.  grew by 8.9% and 6.7% respectively. Meanwhile, Spain and Germany saw a decrease of 11% and 5.7% respectively. 

Between January and September this year, Malta IAP saw an increase of 7.2% when compared to last year’s figures, hosting a total of 3,385,808 passengers so far this year. The maximum take-off weight increased by 0.4% and cargo mail increased by 7.9%. (Source:, 7-Oct-2014)