Alan Borg, CEO at the Malta International Airport (MIA), appealed for the removal of the remaining travel-related COVID-19 restrictions as the industry has started showing signs of ‘demand-driven recovery’.
The MIA noted that, last February, passenger traffic registered a seven-fold increase of the same month in 2021. Having said that, traffic – which totalled 169,895 passenger movements – remained 45.2 per cent below 2019 levels.
“Our traffic results for February clearly show that two years into the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a pandemic, people are ready to travel again,” Mr Borg said.
“At the same time, our industry is facing a spate of new uncertainties and challenges, such as rising oil prices which are likely to push up fares, which are stemming from the war in Ukraine,” he continued.
Even though, usually, MIA registers consistently lower traffic in February than January, this year, February registered an increase of 24 per cent over the previous month.
The airport noted that this double-digit growth indicates that the easing of travel restrictions, most of which had been introduced at the end of 2021, unleased a pent-up demand for air travel. Further indicating that this increase was driven by demand, rather than improved capacity, is the drop of three per cent in February’s seat capacity compared to January’s, MIA continued.
“With the summer season now just weeks away, it is imperative that governments head our industry’s appeal in relation to COVID-19 restrictions,” Mr Borg added.
“The removal of travel restrictions would not only help boost customer confidence, but also give industry stakeholders the confidence to invest in their businesses and be optimistic for the future at this very delicate time,” he continued.
Earlier this month, the Airport Council International – of which MIA is a member – and the International Air Transport Association called for the removal of all remaining COVID-19 restrictions applying to intra-EU and Schengen area travel, including testing requirements, the need to present proof of vaccination, and the need to complete a passenger locator form.
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