Malta Plans To Launch New National Airline In March 2024

Air Malta will cease operations on March 30, 2024 and will be replaced by a new company called KM Malta Airlines p.l.c. which will begin operations on March 31, 2024, subject to the new carrier obtaining the necessary authorizations from the Maltese Civil Aviation Directorate. The government of Malta will be the sole shareholder of KM Malta Airlines.

Customers can continue to book and purchase tickets as normal on Air Malta as it will continue to honour all tickets for flights up to March 30, 2024.

Flights with travel dates from March 31, 2024 and after will be operated by the new airline.

Air Malta will refund customers the total cost of any tickets already issued with travel dates on or after March 31, 2024.

Refunds are guaranteed by the Government of Malta as the principal shareholder of Air Malta. From Dec. 1, 2023, customers whose tickets are refunded by Air Malta as part of this transition, will have the opportunity to book the same flights with the new airline.

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Air Malta indicated that it will issues further updates in due course.

Malta Committed To Having A National Airline 

The announcement of the new national airline was made by Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela and Minister for Finance and Employment, Clyde Caruana.

Prime Minister Abela made it clear that Malta was committed to maintaining a national airline with a sustainable and realistic business model.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the new national airline would diligently implement a five-year business plan along with retaining its current workforce, fleet size.

As well, the new airline would continue serving 17 important routes, with the Prime Minister stressing the importance of connectivity for Malta and that the new national airline would continue to be a key player in Malta’s tourism industry.

The decision to launch a new airline comes after it became clear that “it would not have been possible for Air Malta to become viable without continued state subsidies, in agreement with the European Commission government decided to establish a new airline built on a realistic business model underpinned by a sustainable long-term strategy,” the Malta government said in a statement.

Minister Caruana said that “throughout our discussions and negotiations with the European Commission I have always insisted on the importance of our country to have a national airline. We consider our national airline to be a critical part of the infrastructure of our Islands and the air connectivity the national airline provides is inextricably linked to the economic growth and success of the Maltese Islands.”

He continued: “In the absence of a solution for the capitalization of Air Malta p.l.c. within the parameters of EU state aid rules it has been decided to establish a new airline from a clean sheet – a new airline that builds on the many strengths of Air Malta but with a strong focus on long-term financial sustainability.”

Business Plan In Place For New Airline

The Minister said that significant work was undertaken with international industry experts, to develop a credible five-year business plan that was also shared with the European Commission.

The business plan for the new airline is based on two central drivers – an efficient network and a well-planned fleet. With the network and fleet determined, it was possible to shape a commercial strategy that serves customers well, while ensuring the financial sustainability of the business.

The route network has been designed by industry-leading experts, SABRE for optimal commercial efficiency connecting Malta to the capital cities and primary airports of mainland Europe and beyond.

The new airline will initially operate a total of 17 routes, with increased frequencies added on some existing mature routes to maximize aircraft utilization and optimize commercial performance. This organic point-to-point network will be supported by existing and new codeshare partnership agreements with major airlines operating from key European transit hubs, which provide important connections onto their long-haul international services. The core network will continually be reviewed to identify new opportunities commercial growth.

The right commercial mix is equally important. Based on full customer segmentation, the new airline will present a fully unbundled product offering with economy and premium services, based on analysis which indicated a clear demand for premium and premium economy class flights serving Malta.

KM Malta Airlines will operate a single type aircraft fleet of eight Airbus 320NEOs, in a two-class configuration with a flexible premium-class cabin averaging 168 total saleable seats with up to 36 premium class seats. Importantly, these modern fuel-efficient aircraft offer superior operating economics and better environmental performance with reduced CO2 emissions per passenger and noise pollution. In line with industry best practice, the fleet will comprise a mixed owned and leased ownership structure for aircraft and spare engines.

Minister Caruana observed that “this is a realistic and exciting roadmap for the future of our new national airline. The successful implementation of this plan and the establishment of a sound airline business is good for the Maltese Islands, its people and its economy. It also enhances our future opportunities for aviation development and economic growth. It is now important that we get behind this plan and commit to making it work.”