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Malta International Airport

Brand Positioning

Strategy 7. To position the Maltese Islands as destinations of first choice in select markets in conjunction with connectivity strategies aimed at ensuring seamless, affordable air and sea services offering the highest in safety and carbon reduction standards within the long-established Brand Core Values of Heritage, Hospitality and Diversity. 



The new millennium witnessed a revolution in airline structure and behaviour. An industry previously modelled on a clear-cut distinction between state-owned national airlines offering schedule services and verticallyintegrated charter carriers working on the basis of committed seats contracted with tour operators, eventually had to make space to the rapidly expanding phenomenon of privately owned airlines operating on the lowcost model. These airlines, not only introduced the concept of cheap, affordable travel but upset the traditional business model in a number of ways including the sale of single sectors, the reversal of the concept of dumping prices as flight date approaches, the charging for services such as baggage and food and beverage by detaching them from ticket costs and the proliferation of airports operated from as they moved into previously unknown and underutilised airfields vacated by the military in the post-cold war interval.

The impact of the low-cost model was very far reaching both in terms of traditional airline operation and also in terms of traveller behaviour, so much so that travel became increasingly a spur-of-the-moment decision which could be realised by consumers by booking online from their mobile devices. Needless to say, the combination of online technology, changed travel behaviour and more widely available airline connectivity led to the creation and proliferation of a new generation of marketing tools previously not contemplatable.

Over the past one and a half decades Maltese tourism has been transformed in a number of ways, ensuring a transition which strengthens the destination’s competitiveness. Tourism to Malta has grown in volume, value, presence, spread, source and purpose. The Maltese Islands have become a truly year-round destination alternating between Malta being an Island with a City during the summer season and a City on an Island during the low season.

The evolution of the air connectivity necessary to transport tourists from their countries of residence to the destination has made it possible for Malta to connect with a large number of major and secondary cities for point-to-point travel. The parallel development of air services through adequate long-haul gateways affording seamless transfers from the American and the Australasian markets have also induced increased tourism from markets in North and Latin America, Japan, Korea, China, Australia and India.

Tourism has also had an overall positive effect on the host population’s quality of life. It has generated employment opportunities, generated critical masses of customers for the feasibility of a very diverse range of facilities and attractions, stimulated infrastructural improvements and investments in areas which are not of benefit to tourism alone.

The Maltese resident population has also taken full advantage of connectivity possibilities arising from an expanded route network increasing their travel participation rate strongly year after year. The revolution in accommodation usage has also led to more people entering the hospitality market through participation in the peer-to-peer market whilst the experiential nature of contemporary tourism demand has led to a widening of the spectrum of goods and services consumed by tourists to the benefit of the local trading and entrepreneurial community.

Until the disruption caused by COVID-19, Maltese tourism had enjoyed a lengthy period of sustained volume growth which led to the virtual doubling of tourism numbers between 2010 and 2019, with peak tourist volumes to Malta having arrived from more countries and cities, with more airlines, for more reasons and spread during all twelve months of the year.

The led to the destination making great strides in terms of diversifying its motivational offer, broadening its source market base, attracting strong year-round growth with a positive bias towards the low season months.

Malta’s tourism was widened to feature a more even spread of ages, socio-economic profiles, interests, travel styles and consumption demands. This, in turn, revolutionized the structure of the local supply chain stimulating investment in various fields ranging from traditional and contemporary accommodation products, a richer gastronomic offer and a wide range of tourism services and service providers.

Tourism growth stimulated strong investment in a number of other economic sectors and itself benefited from strong Government support and commitment which served to sustain the positive environment which resulted in its improvement, expansion and enhanced economic contribution. The growth of tourism ensured that industry profitability was not only extended to most months of the year but was sustained long enough to induce a strong flow of expansionary investment in terms of expanded existing developments as well as new investments which have served to increase tourism supply substantially.

Investment in infrastructure, heritage, transport and connectivity were necessary in enabling the destination to absorb the growth and spread of tourism. This took place at a time of other strong economic expansion in other areas of development such as construction, real estate, manufacturing and various service sectors.

Most predictions point to a short to medium term period of recovery for international tourism suggesting 2023/4 as the years when volumes start to return to 2019 levels. In the interim, Malta is working hard to recover in its tourism by tapping into more responsive segments and markets to narrow the time-gap until tourism gets back on track.

The attraction of a higher-yield tourist who will demand more labour-intensive hospitality services will not only enhance the economic and social benefits of tourism, but also address some of its less attractive effects. A connectivity strategy which is sensitive to such requirements.

MTA’s Route Development Strategy strives to exploit opportunities based on market developments and sustain and expand the current route network.

The way forward considers a number of parameters including working closely with the several airline partners to improve accessibility through improved weekly frequencies and an extended period of operation, continuing to stimulate route expansion in a way which opens up new markets and to work with strategic partners in order to achieve further development in the more established core markets.


Malta’s airline route development strategy is conditioned by the following criteria:

• Longevity/sustainability of route rather than growth for the sake of growth;
• Prioritise extension into winter, sometimes gradually in the case of smaller airlines and routes;
• Multiple frequencies to allow for different stay durations;
• Attracting a portfolio of different airlines;
• Managing airline relationships in a way which gives them space/opportunities to grow.

Malta’s current connectivity can be categorized as follows:
• Malta-based Airlines;
• Major Airlines for short and long-haul connectivity;
• Large Airlines with Regional Focus;
• Other Airlines (mostly regional, single country/city focus).

Until 2006, Malta’s first steps in the field of connectivity were characterised by an airport map featuring mostly unserved routes. Eventually, after more than doubling the number of served routes, by 2019 there were very few major or secondary short-haul airports which are still unserved. The challenge now is for Malta to rebuild its connectivity network in a way which sustains recovery and strategically identifies growth opportunities in a way which maximises returns rather than dilute existing business or lead to displacement between airports.

In an age in which Climate Change has been propelled into the stage of global recognition, and given Malta’s aspirations to become a world leader in the field of Climate Friendly Travel, this Strategy will also give prominence to the attraction of airlines operating young, advanced technology aircraft fleets and will, in the coming years, give precedence to connectivity provided by airlines which lead in terms of the use of new aviation technologies.

Whereas it is universally recognized that air travel is by far the predominantly preferred mode of transport for the absolute majority of travellers to Malta, the relevance of sea as a mode of transport for tourism from neighbouring Sicily still offers further opportunities in terms of departure points, nature of vessel, season and frequency.

Enhanced maritime connectivity with Malta’s immediate neighbourhood, including the lesser Italian Islands may also present further opportunities for extending the attractiveness of Malta’s tourism offer and establish its role as a small but important tourism player in the Central Mediterranean.


To rebuild Malta’s connectivity network in a way which maximises its opportunities to attract the tourism streams identified by this Strategy and to do so by attracting the ideal mix of carriers, routes, seasons and frequencies displaying the best long-term prospects in terms of viability, growth and technological advance aimed at minimising emissions on the basis of the latest technological advances. To apply these objectives both to air and sea travel.

Goals and Actions

To holistically investigate air and sea connectivity opportunities in various established, new and emerging source markets and to use the information to plan Malta’s air and sea networks in a way which covers the widest possible range of tourism sources.



Action 1.  Analyse existing international air and sea connectivity of relevance to Malta and establish existing levels of service and adequacy.

Action 2.  Identify latent potential of unserved regions and best prospects of addressing such lacunae.

Action 3.  Use Actions 1 and 2 to draft proposal to guide Goal 2.



To hold discussions with existing and new airlines/shipping companies with a view to rebuild and grow Malta’s connectivity in line with Goal 1.



Action 1.  To set up discussions with the identified potential transport partners as per Goal 1, comprising a mix of existing and new partners.

Action 2.  To enter into agreements binding identified partners into a long-term relationship with the destination.


To place emphasis on the establishment of long-lived, sustainable operations in lieu of short-term ones.



Action 1.  To assess opportunities and proposals on the basis of clearly defined methodology aimed at favouring long term relationships.


To increasingly work with air and sea service transport providers operating the cleanest, most modern and least polluting fleets.



Action 1.  Liaise with Transportation Authorities and Experts to identify the latest developments in terms of clean and environmental friendly standards for international transportation.

Action 2.  To favour those air and sea transport providers featuring the recommended technologies in their equipment and
work practices.

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