British Airways

British Airways is set to add two more flights connecting Malta and the United Kingdom (UK) to its weekly schedule in the coming summer.

This was re-confirmed by Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo during the presentation of a survey commissioned by the Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association (MHRA) and conducted by Deloitte Malta on Friday (today), highlighting the tourism industry’s performance over the final three months of 2023.

The Minister confirmed that there were positive talks with the airline earlier this week.

He remarked that once the new flights start operating, the UK-based airline will have a total of nine flights operating to and from Malta.

Minister Bartolo stated that this is a move aimed at improving connectivity with the UK, and that further negotiations with other airlines for better connectivity are expected. He explained that part of these negotiations will focus on improving connectivity during the winter months.

Earlier this week, data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) revealed that 2023 proved to be a record-breaking year for tourism in Malta, with the total number of inbound tourists reaching close to three million, a 30.1 per cent increase when compared to 2022, and higher than 2019’s 2.8 million.

Despite this, Malta has struggled with air connectivity following the COVID-19 pandemic, with the country being directly connected to 100 airports in 2023, significantly lower than the 125 it was connected to in 2019. While one new country – Croatia – is now connected to Malta, seven countries, namely Egypt, Finland, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Russia, and Ukraine, are no longer connected. Some may be due to extraordinary conflict such as that between Russia and Ukraine, yet others have been lost indefinitely.

Connectivity with the UK has been particularly slow in its recovery, with figures from December 2019 and December 2022 highlighting a sharp drop in the number of connections between the two countries.

In fact, flights arriving from the UK dropped by around 17 per cent between the two periods. Additionally, 2023 was also the first year on record during which British tourists were not top of the list in terms of visitors, with Italian visitors coming out on top.

During the conference, Minister Bartolo stated that the next steps for Malta will entail targeting long-haul markets, with investment in connections with the United States (US), Japan, Australia, and the Gulf countries, in particular.

The record inbound tourism numbers, while positive upon first glance, are also proving to be an issue for Malta, with the country already struggling to maintain its infrastructure and services. Failing to do so is resulting in greater congestion and traffic issues, as well as cleanliness problems, all significant factors in terms of the quality of life and attractiveness to tourism.

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