Air Malta - the end of an aviation era
Updated: Oct 22
This week the Maltese Government announced that the islands national carrier Air Malta will be shut down from next spring.
The carrier has been making a loss for quite some time now and cancellations have been the norm.
Air Malta will operate until 30 March 2024 when it will be replaced by a new national carrier, KM Malta Airlines.
The crunch came as the European Commission refused to permit the Maltese government to fund a €300 million bail-out of Air Malta ( under European law, member states are forbidden to give cash injections to under stress government-owned airlines. )
Instead, a partial privatisation will see the Maltese government retain a majority share in the new company whilst seeking a strategic partner.
However the name of the new carrier is still undecided. The Maltese government owns the Air Malta name and the livery. Bids are opening so I guess we need to wait and see.
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said the government will be investing €350 million in the new airline, of which €300m will go towards buying three of its aircraft, which are currently leased; for the purchase of London and Gatwick airport slots from the government, and to buy hangars and surrounding property from Air Malta. The remaining €50 million will be working capital.
What does this mean for us!
✈️ The new airline will retain the current fleet of eight Airbus A320 short-haul aircraft
✈️ Routes will be trimmed from 37 to 17
✈️ In the UK only Heathrow and Gatwick will be served.
✈️ All existing and new tickets for travel up to 30 March 2024 will continue to be fully valid and honoured for travel.
✈️ Those with Air Malta tickets for travel on or after 31 March 2024 will not be transferred to the new airline but will be refunded. Customers can apply for refunds from 1 November 2023.
✈️ Tickets for the new airline can be purchased from 1 December, 2023.
✈️ Air Malta's Flypass frequent flyer programme will close 29 February. Those who have accumulated air miles will be paid for them from February
✈️ Expect a new pricing structure when the new carrier launches.
From an islands perspective, super news in that all of the 400 remaining Air Malta staff will be retained (the workforce was slashed from more than 1,000 to 400 in the past two years) however pay rates are likely to be cut.
I'll always love Air Malta, for me my holiday truly started the moment I stepped onto the plane. The always warm welcome from the friendly and incredibly smart crew, a taste of the islands with the gorgeous inflight meal and delicious Maltese wines served onboard. In fact I'm sure I still have a liveried cocktail stirrer and drinks coaster stored somewhere.
But those lovely memories are from when Air Malta was in its "golden era" of aviation, now I feel it's the right time for a change.
Vintage images courtesy of Pinterest, Livery and stats courtesy of Times of Malta