Friday, January 19, 2018

U.S. Navy USS Mount Whitney calls at Valletta Port

The United States Navy Blue Ridge class command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) sailed into Valletta Port (the Grand Harbour) this afternoon on a courtesy visit.  USS Mount Whitney is presently berthing alongside at Pinto Wharf, and she's scheduled to sail from Valletta Port on Monday, Jan. 22nd (19-Jan-2018)

VGH helicopter has made 57 emergency flights to date

The VGH helicopter in Gozo (Bell 412, 9H-VGH) has carried out 57 emergency flights since it started operating a year ago instead of the service which used to be provided by the Army to carry patients from Gozo who need treatment at Mater Dei.  

Within less than eight minutes, the VGH air ambulance can transport a patient from the heliport at Xewkija, Gozo to the helipad at St Luke’s hospital where they would then be transferred to an ambulance and taken to Mater Dei.  This service can operate day or night since there are two pilots and an engineer working on a shift basis who are assigned to the helicopter 24/7. (Source: tvm.com, 19-Jan-2018)

Ryanair to launch ten new French routes in W18, new route Paris Beauvais-Malta

Ryanair launched ten new French routes in its Winter 2018 schedule, and confirmed it will engage with social economic committees/unions, which will pave the way for Ryanair to open bases in France, and deliver low fares, jobs and traffic growth.

Ryanair’s new winter routes to/from France are: four from Paris-Beauvais to Bratislava (2-wkly), Malta (2), Prague (3) & Thessaloniki (2); three from Marseille to Bucharest (2-wkly), Budapest (2) & Faro (2); two from Nantes to London Stansted (4-wkly) & Seville (2); and one from Bordeaux to Valencia (2-wkly). (Source: Ryanair, 17-Jan-2018)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

No Malta International Airshow this year

The Malta Aviation Society (MAS) will not be organising the Malta International Airshow this year.  The Society has written to the Minister of Tourism a few hours after the end of last year’s airshow asking for guidance and commitment to future editions of this successful international event. 

Notwithstanding a clear explanation of why such guidance and commitment was required urgently, coupled with another email sent to the same Minister a few days ago, there has been absolutely no reply from the Ministry.  This leaves MAS with no option but to abandon any preparations for the event to take place this year. 

MAS hopes there will be future editions of the Malta International Airshow and is always prepared to offer its totally-voluntary work towards this event subject to a commitment by the Government to financially sustain the airshow after the agreed move to a seaside show. 

The move was triggered by the authorities to which the Society agreed, subject to financial compensation due to loss of income from gate money that the airshow used to generate when it was held at the airport.  (Source: maltairshow.com, 13-Jan-2018)

M.I.A. plc releases 2017 traffic results and 2018 forecasts

Malta IAP today presented its traffic forecast for 2018, revealing that it expects to register further growth in the coming year to reach a total of 6.5 million passengers.

Presented at the airport’s yearly traffic results press conference, this forecast comes hot on the heels of Malta IAP’s announcement that it had reached its 6 millionth passenger milestone, thus breaking all previous traffic records.  2017 was brought to a close with 6,014,548 passenger movements, translating into an impressive upturn of 17.5% over 2016, and establishing 2017 as the fastest-growing year.

Thriving passenger numbers were observed in parallel with an increase of 15% in aircraft movements and an 18% growth in seat capacity.  In spite of this increase in the number of seats available, the seat load factor for the year still stood at a healthy 82.4%, in line with the observed European trend.

Malta IAP’s top drivers of traffic for 2017 were the U.K. (+8.9%), Italy (+14.8%), Germany (+20.9%), France (+20.6%), and Belgium (+109.2%).

"While our performance in 2017 may appear difficult to top, our forecast indicates that we can look ahead to another promising year, provided that hard work, investment, and service excellence continue to shape the way." said Malta IAP CEO A. Borg.

It was also highlighted that all months had achieved double-digit growth for the first time in the airport’s records, auguring well for the strategy developed by Malta IAP, the Ministry for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority to promote Malta as a year-round tourist destination.

Mr Borg went on to say that the airport’s summer schedule for 2018 features no less than 16 new routes, bringing the airport’s destination network up to a 100.  Moreover, this schedule introduces for the first time flights to Portugal, a long sought-after destination.  This development stems from the recent efforts of the traffic development Malta IAP and the respective government entities to establish a link with this previously unserved destination.

Beyond traffic projections, 2018 promises to be a busy year in terms of infrastructure developments, as it will mark the completion of Malta IAP’s €12 million Terminal Reconfiguration Project.  

While most of the terminal improvements falling within phase 1 of this project have been delivered, the focus has now shifted to the Check-In Hall, which will be equipped with eight additional check-in desks and a new Baggage Handling System (BHS) by summer 2018.

During the press conference, it was also revealed that in the coming year M.I.A. will be investing another €8.8 million in terminal and airfield improvements, airport operations and security, and a new cargo village. (Source: maltairport.com, 12-Jan-2018)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Government company established to handle Air Malta’s landing slots in European airports

The Government has launched a new company to handle Air Malta's landing rights in European airports.  Tourism Minister Dr K. Mizzi said this step will give added value to the airline’s assets and will strengthen the national airline.

With a capital of €70 million, Malta Air Travel Ltd. has been established and will handle all landing rights for Air Malta aircraft at European airports and will in turn rent the slots to the national airline.

In a comment to tvm.com.mt, Minister Mizzi explained the reason behind this development.  He said the Government has determined to establish that Air Malta becomes the airline of the Mediterranean region.  To do this, its fleet has to be increased as well as its destinations and including crew complements.  Various strategies have been studied and singled out the need of creating a new company to assume responsibility for landing rights and slots in European airports currently being handled by Air Malta.

Asked by tvm.com.mt whether this means it will result in reducing the value of the national airline, the Minister did not agree.  He said the reality is that the slots held by Air Malta are not actually documented in its accounts because these are not tangible in financial terms.  As a result of this development these slots have now been given a value that can be reflected in accounts.  This will enable Air Malta to increase its resources and its fleet because it will enable greater investment to achieve its strategy. (Source: tvm.com.mt, 10-Jan-2018)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Wizz Air announces Vienna as its new base, new route Vienna-Malta from June 2018

Wizz Air today announced that it would add Austria as the 44th country in its network, by establishing base operations at Vienna airport.  

Wizz Air will open its Austrian base with one Airbus A320 aircraft in June, which will be followed by the deployment of two additional Airbus A321 aircraft in November. This fast growth of Wizz Air’s Vienna base will see the airline operate a total of 17 new routes from the Austrian capital in 2018.

Wizz Air plans to operate 17 new routes from the Austrian capital this year for both business and leisure travellers, connecting Vienna with Gdansk, Tuzla and Varna from April.  Bari, Malta, Rome, Valencia and Tel Aviv follow in June, with destinations including Bergen, Dortmund and Tenerife then added in November. (Source: aviationtribune.com, 9-Jan-2018)

Passengers hurt as Ryanair's Liverpool-Malta flight hits turbulence

A Ryanair Boeing B737-800 (EI-ENY), performing flight FR-8928 from Liverpool (U.K.) to Malta IAP, has encountered turbulence while flying at FL390 60-NM south of Milan (Italy) this evening.  This prompted the crew to lower the aircraft rapidly to FL350, then climbed back to FL370 and continued the flight to Malta.  The aircraft landed normaly at 2305lt.  Five passengers were assessed at the airport by medics, two passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries. (Source: avherald.com & flightradar24.com; 9-Jan-2018)

Air Malta with new route between Catania and Vienna

As part of the government strategy for Air Malta to become the airline of the Mediterranean, from next week the national airline will start flying twice a week between Catania and Vienna.  In this way it will be filling a void left by the Austrian airline Fly Niki which was operating the route up until mid-December.

Air Malta considers the route between Catania and Vienna as a profitable one which can help it to expand and grow.  Presented by the opportunity to operate a direct flight between the two cities, after the low-cost airline Fly Niki declared bankruptcy, Air Malta took the opportunity to step in, with the first flight scheduled for Friday Jan. 19th.  

Tourism Minister K. Mizzi explained that both the crew, as well as the plane operating this route, will still be based in Malta.  Minister Mizzi said that "a strong demand exists between Sicily and Vienna which at the moment is not being serviced as it should so we therefore decided to start operating the Catania-Vienna flight twice a week." (Source: tvm.com.mt, 9-Jan-2018)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Air Malta to increase Malta-Comiso service to three flights in Summer 18

Air Malta in recent schedule update opened bookings for Malta-Comiso route, for travel on/after 25-Mar-18.  Initially launched as two weekly service on 17-Dec-17, summer schedule will see the airline adding a third weekly flight, including a new day-time departure.  All flights will be operated with Airbus A320s.

On Wednesdays:
KM-658 MLA 1335 – 1415 CIY 
KM-659 CIY 1500 – 1540 MLA 

On Fridays and Sundays:
KM-658 MLA 2045 – 2125 CIY
KM-659 CIY 2210 – 2250 MLA

(Source: routesonline.com, 5-Jan-2018)