Alan Borg / MIA

Malta International Airport plc CEO Alan Borg has told MaltaCEOs.mt that the airport is focusing its efforts on expanding its network in a bid to cater for booming travel demand, rather than increasing the frequency of flights.

His comments came after the release of the 2024 Airport Industry Connectivity Report by Airports Council International (ACI) Europe on Tuesday.

In the report, it was noted that Malta has ramped up its post-pandemic recovery in terms of connectivity, with 24 per cent more total air connections in 2024 when compared to 2023. This is the fourth-best year-on-year improvement out of the 32 European countries – European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland and the UK – in the report.

However, this is still 23 per cent below the total air connectivity Malta had prior to the pandemic in 2019.

Europe’s total air connectivity levels remain 14 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, a weak improvement when compared to 2023’s performance.

Speaking to MaltaCEOs.mt, Mr Borg said that the aviation industry is among the most exposed to geopolitical risk, with the impact of rising tensions in Europe and the Middle East on air connectivity “being felt across the global aviation market, including in Malta.”

Right after the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to many airports being closed and countless flights being cancelled, Europe’s aviation industry faced difficulties related to ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and in the Middle East. The closure of airspace has prompted many flights to suffer from a significant increase in transportation cost.

Despite this, the tourism industry has still experienced a sharp recovery, particularly in terms of passenger volumes, which are on the verge of a full recovery. This points towards consumers and communities seeing fewer and more costly options.

“Customer-centricity remains at the core of MIA’s traffic development strategy, as the company seeks to secure air links which offer passengers more convenient connections to destinations around Europe,” Mr Borg noted.

A Central Bank of Malta economist recently highlighted that in the years following the pandemic, Malta has largely recovered in terms of connectivity, despite losing connections to seven countries.

In fact, the picture is far more positive for Malta when it comes to direct connections. ACI Europe’s report stated that in this regard, Malta had a nine per cent increase from pre-pandemic levels, placing fourth in Europe for the best improvement in 2024 when compared to 2019.

This was also the case for year-on-year performance, with Malta having 10 per cent more direct connections in 2024 than in 2023.

This was welcomed by the MIA CEO, who said that rather than working solely towards increasing flight frequencies to hub airports, MIA has “focused its efforts on expanding its network to cater for tourism demand.”

Mr Borg affirmed that this has led to the “significant growth achieved over 2019 traffic levels.”

MIA closed 2023 with a record 7.8 million passenger movements, a rise of 33.4 per cent in traffic over 2022, and a 6.7 per cent increase over 2019. The growth of almost 500,000 passenger movements over pre-pandemic levels is comparable to the throughput of an average winter month for the airport.

This trend of pent-up demand following the pandemic is expected to continue, with MIA anticipated to welcome 8.45 million passengers by the end of 2024.

Earlier this year, MaltaCEOs.mt analysed how many airports Malta is connected to. Unsurprisingly, Malta had the most connections to Italian airports (18), closely followed by those in the UK (16) and France (nine).

Featured Image:

MIA CEO Alan Borg / MIA

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