According to data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), more than 5.5 million passengers commuted between Malta and Gozo in 2022, through the use of the Gozo Channel ferry and the fast ferry service.
This demonstrates a near full recovery to a pre-pandemic level of activity for travel between the islands. In 2019, there were a total of 5,917,780 passengers between the Malta and Gozo, compared to 5,694,804 in 2022. This is a significant improvement of 27.9 per cent compared to 2021 which saw a total of 4,451,692 passengers.
Gozo Channel ferry
While the number of passengers did not exceed pre-pandemic levels, the number of trips and vehicles making use of the Gozo channel certainly has.
A whopping 34,582 trips took place between Malta and Gozo, compared to 27,631 in 2019. The number of trips did not decline as a result of the pandemic but continued to climb even in the midst of it, a trend that started has gone unabated since 2014.
The growing number of trips also corresponds with the growing number of vehicles commuting between the islands. In 2022 there were 1,960,815 vehicles transported between the islands, up by 7.4 per cent compared to 2021, and even above 2019 figures, which saw 1,782,909 vehicles transported between the islands.
What is interesting to note is the number of vehicles per 100 passengers.
In 2022 there were 37.5 vehicles for every 100 passengers, down from 41-42 vehicles per 100 passengers in 2020 and 2021. This compares to 2019 with 30 vehicles per 100 passengers in 2018 and 28 vehicles per 100 passengers in 2018.
This could indicate that, during the height of the pandemic, there was a spike in the number of people commuting between the islands with their cars, probably to isolate themselves more. Additionally, it could indicate the latent number of workers who commuted between the islands with their cars for work and continued to do so during the pandemic.
The Gozo fast-ferry service which transports passengers between Valletta and Gozo has ferried more people during the entire operational year of 2022, compared to the seven months of operations in 2021 by a margin of 30 per cent.
This appears to be an improvement with 476,180 passengers transported in 2022 compared to 364,672 in 2021. When taking into account the number of months the ferry was operational each year, there is a small drop, with an average of 39,681 passengers transported per month in 2022, and 52,096 in 2021.
However, this is countered by the average number of passengers per trip, with an average of 45.4 passengers per trip in 2021, increasing to 59.2 passengers per trip.
This may in part be due to the evolving nature of the service, which saw the number of trips scheduled slashed by more than half during the last quarter of 2022. The last quarter of the year only had a total of 680 fast-ferry trips, a cut of more than 75.1 per cent compared to 2021, which resulted in a decline of 29.8 per cent of passengers.
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