Passenger traffic to Malta International Airport increased sevenfold from the same month in 2021, while remaining 45.2% below pre-pandemic levels of 2019 at 196,000.
But MIA has called for the removal of remaining travel restrictions, with traffic figures showing signs of a demand-led recovery in tourism.
Over the years, MIA’s traffic for the month of February has been consistently lower or slightly better than January’s traffic. Last February’s traffic bucked the trend as it registered a significant increase of 24% compared to January.
“This double-digit growth indicates that the easing of travel restrictions, most of which were introduced in late 2021, has triggered pent-up demand for air travel,” said MIA CEO Alan Borg.
“Another indication that this increase was driven by demand rather than capacity improvement is the 3% drop in seat capacity in February compared to January.”
Sitting at a healthy 70.7%, the seat load factor (SLF) for February was only 5.1% below 2019 levels.
“Our traffic results for February clearly show that two years after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, people are ready to travel again. At the same time, our industry is facing a series of new uncertainties and challenges, such as rising oil prices which are likely to drive up tariffs, stemming from the war in Ukraine,” Borg said.
“With the summer season only weeks away, it is imperative that governments heed our industry’s call for restrictions related to COVID-19. Removing travel restrictions would help not only to boost consumer confidence, but would also give industry players the confidence to invest in their businesses and be optimistic about the future at this very challenging time.
In February, the UK won the top spot in the Malta International Airport Market Ranking. Among the five most popular markets, the United Kingdom recorded the highest growth rate in February 2021. At the time, strict travel restrictions between the two countries had limited traffic from this market to only 841 passenger movements. Italy, France, Poland and Germany made up the rest of the ranking, with a combined market share of 42.3%.
Airports Council International (ACI), of which Malta International Airport is a member, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on Friday for the removal of all remaining COVID-19 restrictions applying to intra-city travel. -EU and Schengen Area, including testing requirements, the need to present proof of vaccination and the need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF).