|Hubs||Malta International Airport|
|Destinations||17 (June 2021)|
|Key people||Vacant (CEO)|
David Curmi (Chairman)
Air Malta plc (stylized as airmalta) is the flag carrier airline of Malta, with its headquarters in Luqa and its hub at Malta International Airport. It operates services to destinations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Shortly after the Second World War, several small private airlines were formed in Malta. Amongst these were The Malta Instone Airline, BAS (Malta) Ltd, and Malta Airlines. In 1947 the former two companies merged to form Air Malta Ltd in fierce competition with the latter. Eventually in 1951 Malta Airlines absorbed the operations of Air Malta Ltd and continued operating through an agreement with BEA until 1973. The owners of Air Malta Ltd used their real estate, staff, and equipment to set up a ground handling company called MAS, Malta Aviation Services.
In the early 1970s, the Maltese government appointed Albert Mizzi as chairman of the airline and made a call for an international airline partner to help set up an airline. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), then regarded as Asia's best airline, was selected and a new carrier set up. The name chosen for the new airline was similar to that of its forerunner, Air Malta Co Ltd, and was established on 31 March 1973. BEA was chartered to continue its Malta operations, this time for Air Malta, until Air Malta's first flight on 1 April 1974. Both Malta Airlines and Malta Aviation Services were taken over by the government and the private owners were given a shareholding in Air Malta Co. Ltd.
Air Malta started operations, with 2 wet leased Boeing 720Bs that served Rome, Tripoli, London, Manchester, Frankfurt, and Paris from Malta. It later bought 3 more Boeing 720Bs and bought the original two.
In 1981, 3 Boeing 737-200s were wet leased, which were so successful that in 1983, 3 new fully owned Boeing 737-200s were delivered. In 1986, Air Malta bought 3 new Boeing 737-200s, and in 1987 ordered its first Airbus A320. In 1989, Air Malta exercised an option for one more A320, and in 1992, 3 more Boeing 737-300s were ordered and 4 Avro RJ70s were ordered for routes to Catania and Palermo, and to new destinations such as Tunis and Monastir.
After the opening of Malta International Airport in 1992, Air Malta created CargoSystems, which includes the transportation of cargo on Air Malta planes. In 1994, Air Malta inaugurated a cargo center at the airport. It was also during this time that a codesharing agreement with Trans World Airlines began.
Between 2002 and 2007, Air Malta embarked upon a fleet replacement programme, opting to change all aircraft to Airbus A319s and A320s. The last aircraft in this order, an A320, was delivered on 22 March 2007, and the fleet has not been replaced since.
Air Malta had around 190 interline ticketing agreements with other IATA airlines. According to the Association of European Airlines quarterly review of May 2006, Air Malta is the airline that lost the least amount of passenger baggage. The amount of baggage lost in the first quarter of 2006 was 4.1 bags missing per 1000 passengers.
In winter, the airline often leases out aircraft to maximise earnings during the low season. In September 2007, for instance, Air Malta made two agreements with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways by which Air Malta wet-leased 2 Airbus aircraft to Etihad Airways for the winter period starting 1 September 2007, and provided operational support on another Airbus A320 aircraft leased by Etihad Airways. In January and February 2009 Air Malta wet-leased an A320 to Sky Airline of Chile. From 2011 to 2014 Air Malta wet-leased another A320 to Sky Airline.
In 2012 Air Malta underwent a re-branding process, which caused some controversy as the titles on aircraft and signage only say Malta, omitting the word Air. The airline insisted this was not a name change, and the full name of the airline remains Air Malta. Additionally, the titles on the engines still say airmalta.com. The first plane to show off the new colours was the Airbus A320-200 9H-AEN at the Malta International Airshow 2012. On the second and last day of the show the A320 and a Spitfire performed a flypast as the closing act.
As a commemoration of the airline's 40 years of operation, the airline painted one of its aircraft, 9H-AEI, an A320-200, in retro colours, depicting the livery used on the Boeing 720Bs.
In June 2017, the newly appointed Minister for Tourism announced the restructuring of Air Malta. This was also confirmed by the newly appointed chairman. Air Malta then opened a number of new routes, including Tunis, Malaga (reduced to seasonal in 2019), Comiso (terminated after summer 2018), Kiev, Lisbon, Casablanca, Southend (terminated in 2019) and Cagliari (subsequently reduced to June-September only). Manchester and Frankfurt were restarted after being briefly terminated.
In March 2019, the airline announced that it had made a profit of EUR1.2 million in the fiscal year of 2018. This profit is the first the airline has made in 18 years.
On 1 April 2019, Air Malta celebrated 45 years since it commenced its first operations. Currently the airline is restructuring, and aims to increase its fleet to 14 aircraft. The restructuring plans include the replacement of the current fleet with newer Airbus A320 Neo aircraft, as well as inaugural flights to Asia and North America with Airbus A321LR aircraft.
Post COVID-19, Air Malta has been known to struggling financially and is no stranger to controversy . Air Malta was reportedly facing a loss of EUR30 Million, a year after recording profit for first time in 18 years. Redundancies are currently in the pipeline as Air Malta faces uncertainty and it plans to lay off a large chunk of its workforce. According to a Times of Malta article dated on 24 April 2020, ALPA, which is the union's airline pilot association refused outright an offer placed for its pilots to be set on a 1200 Euros monthly pay due to COVID-19's impact on shutting down the international airport in Malta which happened on 3 May and bringing visitors levels to below 0.2% affecting Air Malta directly.
Air Malta has been mentioned in local media outlets various times for having controversial debates and heated exchanges with local unions representing both pilots and cabin crew.
Economy minister Silvio Schembri, responsible for Air Malta before predecessor Konrad Mizzi, accused ALPA of trying to "hijack the airline" to secure higher wages for pilots as mentioned in a 2020 Times of Malta article.
The head office of the company is on Level 2 of the Skyparks Business Centre, located on the property of Malta International Airport in Luqa. In the 1960s and 1970s the head office of predecessor Malta Airlines was in Sliema.
9H-AEP - 9H-AEQ - 9H-AHS - 9H-NEO - 9H-NEB - 9H-NEC - 9H-NED
(9H-AHS in full white livery, expected to leave on delivery of the next A320 NEO)
Air Malta previously operated the following aircraft:
Since its inception in 1973, Air Malta has had no fatal accidents.
Media related to Air Malta at Wikimedia Commons