The launch of new routes will lead to a “record summer” for air travel, despite airlines facing issues due to aircraft supply and groundings, Malta International Airport plc (MIA) has stated.

Ahead of the summer, limited capacity has proven to be a major headache for airlines, as they face aircraft production issues and delays, extra maintenance, and multiple aircraft groundings. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, global demand for air travel has skyrocketed, outpacing fleet capacity development. This surge in demand is expected to continue into 2024’s peak season.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary

Indeed, Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary, in his review of the airline’s performance for the financial year ended March 2024, stated that the EU’s short-haul travel capacity for this summer is set to be “constrained.” He noted that this is primarily because of airlines having to ground Airbus A320neo aircraft due to engine repairs and equipment manufacturers struggle to recover their delivery backlogs. Additionally, Boeing continues to experience a shaky start to 2024 after a number of questions being raised over the safety of its aircraft.

These technical challenges will continue to have an impact on airlines’ performance, yet MIA told that it still has good prospects for this summer.

“While on the one hand airlines are experiencing aircraft supply issues and grounding of aircraft due to technical issues, on the other hand, Malta is witnessing the launch of several new routes from key players,” it added.

Over recent weeks, Ryanair, one of the most active airlines in Malta, introduced routes to Norwich and Belfast, while Jet2 announced new routes to Belfast and Edinburgh. Air Baltic started to operate a route to Tallinn, while easyJet launched new routes to Basel and Amsterdam, with a view to introducing an additional one to Nice in June.

Additionally, the transition from Air Malta to KM Malta Airlines has seen the national carrier become the sole operator of direct routes to Prague, Lyon, Berlin, and London-Heathrow.

“These new developments are all contributing to what we expect will be a record summer for our airport,” MIA stated.

Earlier this month, MIA announced that it expects to welcome 8.45 million passengers by the end of 2024, surpassing 2023 results by approximately 650,000 passenger movements. In April 2024 alone, MIA welcomed 774,562 passengers, a 9.3 per cent increase in traffic volumes over the same month in 2023.

Despite that, MIA confirmed to that it is “aware of its infrastructural limitations,” which are heightened due to the airport’s “peak-driven operation.”

In January 2020, MIA had announced a €100 million expansion project, but due to travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic, it had to be shelved. In 2023, the airport announced that it was able to restart expansion plans yet again, through a five-year investment programme totalling €250 million, with the aim of enhancing its infrastructure to handle the increasing volumes of passengers.

MIA stated that aside aiming to address these challenges through phased infrastructural projects, it is also “working closely” with all airport stakeholders to facilitate operations, particularly during peak periods when full capacity is reached. It added that this includes the “successful harmonisation of efforts” between the company and a number of Government entities.

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