Malta’s vital tourism sector was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, being significantly impacted by a range of travel restrictions. Fortunately for the sector, 2022 oversaw the removal of effectively all restrictions.
Now that travel restrictions are no more, (excluding those for travellers arriving from China, who are required to present a negative test), travel to and from Malta should continue recovering. However, with geopolitical events such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, causing shockwaves across every industry, it’s hard to predict when flights will return to 2019 levels.
Relative to 2019, January was the worst month in 2022, with more than 40 per cent fewer flights taking place. Restrictions were still quite stringent at the time, and Malta, along with a number of other European countries, was facing a record number of daily COVID-19 cases.
As the year progressed COVID-19 cases declined and restrictions were alleviated, and as a result flights settled at a range between 3,200 and 5,000 each month since. The highest number of flights took place in July 2022 (4,928), which saw the last of the travel restrictions removed.
Since July 2022, the number of flights slowly declined. Tourist numbers traditionally decline after the peak summer period, with Malta not being known as a major Christmas / festive season destination (despite the balmy weather). Other reasons behind the decline could be that as inflation bit into the public’s purchasing power (European citizens had to contend with soaring energy prices), it’s possible that some would-be tourists chose to hunker down to save up for a rainy day.
It’s still too soon to tell how 2023 will shape up to be, however, it’s highly likely that January 2023 will see more air traffic than 2022.
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