Air Malta using three of 10 aircraft, passenger bookings at 63%

The national airline is predicting it will take at least two years for it to reach 2019 passenger levels


Air Malta is currently using only three of its 10 aircraft to service the 22 destinations this summer, as the national airline struggles to fill seats with passenger bookings standing at around 63% in July, BusinessToday has learned.

Sources in the company said that bookings for August currently stand at 45% of seat capacity, with  29% of seat capacity in September already booked.

But with the airline using only three of its 10 aircraft, Air Malta is actually currently filling only around 16% of seats, when compared to the summer of 2019.

The sources said the company was still forecasting not returning to 2019 levels of passengers anytime before summer 2022, as people return to air travel following restrictions imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus.

In June, Air Malta laid off 69 pilots after talks with the pilots’ union on measures to avoid redundancies in order to safeguard the company’s ongoing sustainability and viability, failed.

The move came after a protracted standoff between the airline’s management and pilots after the latter refused to accept a social wage of €1,200 per month in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

After the redundancies were confirmed, economy minister Silvio Schembri had told MaltaToday that the airline would focus on servicing its core routes.

“Air Malta will be able to comfortably operate five planes and ensure that we serve our core routes until the end of the year,” he had said. “We must focus on revitalising our tourist industry, this is an exceptional moment and we must rise to the occasion. It will be hard but we will succeed.”

But even those plans to operate five aircraft have had to be revised as low passenger booking numbers would make operating more than three aircraft economically unsound.

Air Malta operates a fleet of ten Airbus A320 family aircraft: one A319-112, six A320-214 and three A320-251N ‘Neo’ aircraft.

Aviation industry sources told BusinessToday that the airline was probably using the three Neo versions, since these provided exceedingly higher fuel savings over the standard A320s, although the A319 could possibly be in operation on the shorter routes.

After commercial operations at Malta International Airport ceased for three months, Air Malta commenced its summer schedule on 1 July, connecting Malta to 22 destinations within Europe.

Air Malta flights to Rome, Lyon and Marseille joined the previously announced flights to Catania, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, and Prague.

And as of yesterday, the airline also started operations to Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan, London Heathrow, Lisbon, Madrid, Palermo, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Orly. In August, Air Malta will also be restarting flights to and from Manchester.

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