Malta International Airport

Malta International Airport’s (MIA) CEO Alan Borg has expressed a more optimistic outlook regarding passenger numbers in the second half of 2021, which, he says, “will be better”.

Speaking at the airport’s Annual General Meeting, he conceded that “2021 has been off to a challenging and slow start”, but that Malta’s “strong vaccination drive” is positioning the country as a “safe leisure destination” this summer.

He explained that the airport expects almost 20 carriers – three of them being newcomers – to establish direct routes between MIA and more than 90 airports.

However, he insisted that the success of the airport’s summer schedule is “tightly dependent” on the easing of existing travel restrictions. In this vein, he welcomed European Commission proposals to ease restriction on non-essential travel from outside the European Union as an important step.

Between January and April, Mr Borg reported that the airport welcomed only 137,887 passengers, which is a drop of 92.6 per cent over the same period in 2019.

Also speaking at the meeting, airport Chairman Nikolaus Gretzmacher said that “while nothing could have fully prepared the company for the unforeseen events of 2020”, a decade of solid results previously equipped it with the resilience to withstand the shocks of the crisis.

He also noted that the huge impact of the pandemic on the company’s aviation and non-aviation activities had led its revenue during the year to shrink by a “staggering” €68 million compared to 2019.

The timely implementation of a cost-cutting and liquidity preservation programme, he claimed, have enabled MIA to soften the financial blow of the crisis and close the year with a net loss of €4.3 million.

Malta is set to reopen to international tourists from 1st June, and some companies in the aviation industry are predicting a strong resumption in flights, as pent-up demand built during the ban on international travel is released.

In less positive news, Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) has recently downgraded its traffic forecast for European airports, predicting that full recovery to 2019 passenger volumes will be reached in 2025.

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