Malta International Airport MIA

Malta’s direct air connectivity has witnessed steady improvement in 2024, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. This is in stark contrast to total air connectivity, where Malta is still way off 2019 levels.

These findings were highlighted in the 2024 Airport Industry Connectivity Report published by Airports Council International (ACI) Europe on Tuesday (today).

The report, released on the eve of the 34th ACI Europe Annual Congress and General Assembly, is based on the connectivity indexes developed by SEO Amsterdam Economics.

Indirect air connectivity

In the report, it was noted that Malta has ramped up its post-pandemic recovery in terms of connectivity, with 24 per cent more total connections in 2024 when compared to 2023.

This represents the fourth-best year-on-year improvement out of the 32 European countries – European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland and the UK – in the report.

However, this is still 23 per cent below the total air connectivity Malta had prior to the pandemic in 2019.

Total air connectivity takes into account both direct and indirect connectivity from an airport in question. It is essentially the sum of direct and indirect connectivity, and thus measures the overall level to which an airport is connected to the rest of the world, either by direct flights or indirect connections via other airports.

The drop in total air connectivity meant that out of 32 European countries, Malta placed in 24th.

In fact, the 2024 report stated that Malta had 1,663 total connections, significantly lower than 2019’s 2,173, but more than the 1,341 of 2023.

Europe’s total air connectivity levels remain 14 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, a weak improvement when compared to 2023’s performance.

This also stands as a stark contrast with passenger volumes which are on the verge of a full recovery, thus pointing towards consumers and communities seeing fewer and more costly options.

Direct air connectivity

The picture is far more positive for direct connections, where Malta had a nine per cent increase, placing fourth for the best improvement in 2024 when compared to 2019.

This was also the case for year-on-year performance, with Malta having 10 per cent more direct connections in 2024 (600 connections) than in 2023 (546 connections).

In terms of direct connectivity, Istanbul Airport remains on top of the European ranking, enjoying the best direct connectivity to the Middle East and second-best to Asia-Pacific. This was closely followed by Amsterdam-Schipol, mainly due to its connectivity within Europe, and then London-Heathrow, which has nearly fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

‘Air connectivity should not be taken for granted’

Commenting on the results, ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec said: “If anything, this year’s report shows that air connectivity should not be taken for granted.”

“This is particularly relevant at a time when Europe is resetting its strategic direction for the next five years with a renewed focus on competitiveness and cohesion. As every 10 per cent increase in direct air connectivity yields a 0.5 per cent increase in GDP per capita, there is no doubt air connectivity is an essential part of competitiveness – be it at local, national or European level – and a key enabler of cohesion,” he added.

He called for policymakers to address several factors that will further shape Europe’s air connectivity, including climate action, technological progress and airline consolidation.

“Looking at climate action in particular, we have no choice but to progress towards decarbonising aviation while at the same time safeguarding the socioeconomic benefits of air connectivity. This will require further flexibility and supportive measures in implementing the EU Fit for 55 framework,” Mr Jankovec affirmed.

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