Malta International Airport welcomed 2,540,335 passengers in 2021, a 45.3% increase over 2020 estimates, and this figure is expected to rise further in 2022 depending on the government’s post-COVID-19 policy.
In 2021, 2,540,335 passengers passed through Malta International Airport (MLA). While this full-year traffic result is a 45.3 percent increase above 2020 projections, it represents just a 34.8 percent recovery of 2019 passenger counts.
The leading traffic drivers for the year were Italy and the United Kingdom, each of which had a 19% market share, followed by Germany, France, and Poland.
During the company’s first news conference of 2022, Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg and Head of Traffic Development Alex Cardona revealed these findings.
According to Malta International Airport’s monthly traffic statistics, following the first half of 2021, air travel began to gain traction as a result of increasing stability and consumer confidence, with passenger movements more than doubling over the previous quarter.
Malta International Airport’s best-performing month was October 2021, when Southern European airports reported increased passenger traffic numbers, with more than 428,000 passenger movements recorded. This is due to a delayed peak in leisure travel demand caused by the relaxing of travel requirements as the year progressed, until the appearance of a new COVID-19 (Omicron) type in November 2021.
“The immediate impact on air travel of harsher restrictions towards the end of 2021 has once again emphasised that our industry’s recovery is at the mercy of how governments respond to the shifting epidemiological scenario,” Borg said. “The implementation of harsher and more unequal entrance restrictions across Europe at the end of 2021 has already resulted in the cancellation of around 850 flights during the first quarter of 2022.”
Borg went on to say that the summer of 2022 is projected to be marked by fiercer rivalry among similar locations, especially if vaccine uptake in Europe continues to climb.
While applauding the local authorities’ efforts to put Malta at the forefront of vaccination coverage, Borg urged the government to now shift its focus to the publication of a post-COVID-19 strategy, which would give the industry confidence to invest in businesses, contributing to an improved tourism offering and increasing the island’s competitive edge. The compliance of Malta’s entrance criteria with EU laws, on the other hand, is critical in creating trust in travellers to schedule their next trip.
Despite Malta International Airport’s success in retaining more than 70% of its connections for 2019, data released by Airports Council International (ACI) and presented during the press conference showed that, at 33.5%, Malta’s recovery for the period between January and November 2021 still lagged behind that of Southern European peers such as Greece (52.5%), Cyprus (44.3%), Spain (41.7%), and Portugal (40.3%), despite Malta International Airport’s success in retaining more than 70% of its connections for 2019.