Air Malta’s plans to fly to faraway destinations, such as New York, Mumbai and Ghana, may not be happening after all.
These ambitious plans were put forward two years ago by former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, who argued that Malta needs better connectivity in order to increase its economic growth.
However, new Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, who is responsible for Air Malta, said that while these plans have not been completely discarded, he doesn’t think it’s the way forward for the national airline.
“I think we must relook at the strategy itself,” Caruana said in an interview with Lovin Malta. “It’s not an issue of change of heart, it all boils down to whether it makes business sense or not.”
He dismissed arguments that these new routes could help boost tourism to Malta, counter-arguing that there are hundreds of millions of potential European tourists the island can tap into.
“If we want tourists, there’s no need to get them from as far away as Mumbai. I’m quite sure we can get them from Europe.”
Caruana frankly said he is worried about Air Malta’s future, particularly in light of COVID-19, and that the airline won’t survive unless it addresses certain lingering problems.
“I’m confident that it can keep on flying but the necessary actions must be taken. We’re already working on something but for the time being, I will just stop at this.”
Caruana ruled out any further job losses at the national airline but refused to rule out any change in routes, arguing that this must be looked at in a holistic manner.
“At this stage, what I can say is that we’re looking at each and every cent and we must make sure the airline has enough money to keep flying in the coming months and years.”
And while he refused to rule out that plans for Air Malta to partner with another airline could be resuscitated, he said the pandemic showed how crucial it is that Malta has its own national airline.
“We required Air Malta to repatriate people, to help people who needed health services abroad, and to bring in medication for our hospitals. Air Malta is here to stay.”
What do you think Air Malta’s future should be?