After 18 years of company restructuring, changing fares, battles with unions, and many a financial woe, Air Malta is set to announce that it has finally broken even in the financial year that ended March 2018.
This is the first time the national airline has achieved a positive financial outcome in nearly two decades, and comes after the company was given to the controversial Minister for Tourism Konrad Mizzi to turn around and get into the green.
Air Malta has been bleeding money for years, nearly declaring bankruptcy in 2010
It was back in 2010 when the Maltese government had to get seriously involved and supply State Aid to save the company – financial help that needed to be cleared by Brussels.
Prior to this, between 2002 and 2007, the company had to replace their entire fleet of aircraft to Airbus A319s and A320s, coming in at a large cost. These aircraft are still being used today.
Konrad Mizzi was expected to downsize the airline when he took over in 2017, but instead moved towards expansion
Air Malta has added 21 new routes in recent years, moving towards a growth strategy that focused on flying more often. At the same time, certain costs were cut.
The infamous free breadroll/bezzun that was given out on all flights was scrapped, and replaced with a new menu with industry-standard food that can be purchased onboard.
More aircraft have been added to the fleet, and the company rolled out new fare options, such as the Go-Light fare, as well as increased their cooperation with companies like Ryanair and Qatar Airways.
There have been multiple stand-offs with ALPA, the pilots’ union
More is being demanded from Air Malta pilots than ever before, and the company has repeatedly used legal tactics to crack down on ALPA when the going got tough, consistently pushing Air Malta employees to deliver more to reach profitability.
Air Malta pilots were known to have very favourable working conditions for decades, but it may have been coming in at too large a cost for the company.
More people are also getting onto the aircraft
In just August alone, the airline recorded a 35% increase in the number of passengers, partly buoyed by the increased marketing affiliated with Valletta 2018, as well as a higher international profile for the island in general.
Pictured: The increase in passengers between 2017 and 2018