“Uncoordinated” travel restrictions across Europe has led to a major slowdown in air travel to and from Malta, with 480 flights set to operate over the next few weeks cancelled or postponed.
With Europe rolling out mitigation measures to combat another wave of COVID-19 hitting a number of countries, the chief executive at Malta International Airport Alan Borg told the Times of Malta that the trends appearing for the first quarter of 2022 were already worrying.
“The hotchpotch of uncoordinated travel restrictions across Europe is confusing passengers and destroying consumer confidence in air travel, leaving airports and airlines to bear the brunt of hasty, haphazard decisions,” Borg said.
Travellers usually book around 246,000 seats over 87 routes to and from Malta during the holiday season. However, this season does not seem to be able to reach those usual milestones.
And Malta’s national airline did not escape fallout from the new measures either.
“Air Malta saw a slowdown in new bookings and received a number of cancellations for travel over the holiday period in January.”
Air Malta is dealing with around 2,000 cancellation refund requests in December alone, with around 2,000 more in November.
In total, since the outbreak of the pandemic, Air Malta dealt with around 300,000 ticket refund requests, refunding around €32 million.
“Most cancellations are coming from places which have called a lockdown or where cases are spiralling upwards,” he said.
The worrying signs from the travel industry, a core sector for Malta, has led to some to call for stronger global leadership and a solid plan to ensure its survival.
Valletta Cultural Agency Chairman Jason Micallef warned that if the aviation industry is impacted, a follow on effect will happen, with everything from the hospitality industry to hotels, restaurants, cruise liners, taxis, cleaning companies and so many more also set to suffer.
What do you make of Malta’ travel slowdown as the pandemic rears its head once more?