Ryanair

The inaugural flights of three of Ryanair’s summer routes have touched down at Malta International Airport (MIA), the airport has announced.

The routes, from Italy and Bulgaria, will be operated by Ryanair until October.

One of the routes, between Malta and Brindisi in southern Italy, is brand new to Malta and joins the four weekly flights to Bari from MIA in providing more convenient connections between Malta and the region of Puglia.

Describing the new location, Malta’s airport characterised it as “an important port city whose roots go back to ancient times.

“Brindisi’s proximity to Alberobello, which is home to the UNESCO-protected ‘trulli’ dwellings; the hilltop town of Ostuni; the medieval Monopoli; and Lecce, whose rich architecture earned it the nickname ‘Florence of the South’, make it the ideal gateway to the region of Puglia.”

The second route, serving Genoa, is making its comeback to MIA’s flight schedule after a brief absence whereas the third, to Sofia, is currently also served by low-cost carrier Wizz Air.

When they were announced, the routes were hailed as precipitating a return to normality for Malta’s tourism and aviation industries.

At the time, announcing the routes on behalf of Ryanair, David O’Brien, CEO of its local subsidiary Malta Air, said the airline was looking forward to welcoming customers back to “sunny and safe” Malta.

However, while the airline has welcomed its passengers back into Malta, it will likely be disappointed by the volumes of those coming, considering the country’s stringent entry requirements seem to have put off a considerable number of prospective tourists into the country.

As things stand, Malta requires all visitors to be present a certificate showing they are fully vaccinated or isolate for 14 days, making visiting the country prohibitively impractical for swathes of the island’s usual tourist market.

This restriction has been identified by MIA as putting the destination at a great disadvantage and creating a bleak outlook for the country’s aviation and tourism industries.

More optimistically though, calculations by BusinessNow.mt have suggested that Malta’s five key tourism markets, which contributed more than half of the country’s pre-COVID tourist arrivals, are set to reach peak vaccination levels and able to travel by late October.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, has repeatedly emphasised that Malta has become a “very important home” for the group, and previously said it expected to have 57 routes through the country this summer.

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