Air Malta has officially scrapped plans to launch long-route flights to destinations as far away as New York, Mumbai, Toronto, and Ghana due to cashflow problems.
The national airline’s executive chairman David Curmi told Lovin Malta in an interview that this strategy has been stopped and that Air Malta now intends to focus on connecting passengers to European airports which offer long-haul routes.
“It doesn’t make sense for Air Malta to fly to New York when you can catch a New York flight from Alpensa,” he said. “We will take you to these airports at the right time but long-haul routes require an investment and Air Malta doesn’t have the cash to do right now.”
Long-haul flights were proposed two years ago by former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, who argued that Malta needs better connectivity in order to increase its economic growth.
However, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, who is responsible for Air Malta, said last December that he doesn’t think this should be the way forward, and now Curmi has confirmed the plan has been scrapped entirely.
Air Malta’s plan now is to strategise its network in anticipation of an upcoming demand for frequent weekend breaks overseas once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
This will mean travelers will be able to catch a flight on Thursday or Friday, with a return ticket from the same destination on Sunday or Monday.
Meanwhile, Air Malta has cut ten destinations it deemed unprofitable, including Malaga, Venice, Ibiza, Bucharest and St Petersburg, and intends to increase its frequency to airports in France, Italy, the UK, Germany, and Madrid.
“From the information we’ve received from various international bodies, it appears that there will clearly be a big demand for travel,” Curmi said. “People want to travel, and our information is that people are likely to travel closer to home for shorter periods, so Air Malta can play an important role here.”
“I think this is how travel will develop – less business travel but more pleasure travel, to countries closer to home and for shorter periods.”