Having served 366,015 passengers in January, Malta International Airport continued to register growth, albeit at a not unexpected slower pace, in the winter months.
Following several months of robust growth, January’s modest 4.1 per cent increase in passenger numbers was observed alongside a 9.9 per cent increase in aircraft movements and a rise of 7.9 per cent in seat capacity. Seat load factor (SLF) for the month stood at 69.0 per cent. Within the top five markets, Spain registered a phenomenal increase of 87.2 per cent and France grew by a healthy 12.0 per cent. The performance of the Spanish and French markets indicates that the joint traffic diversification strategy of Malta International Airport, the Ministry for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority is bearing the desired results, in that it has stimulated newer markets to gain momentum just as legacy markets are reaching maturity. The Iberian Peninsula constitutes one such new market and, in fact, the Seville, Malaga and Barcelona routes, which were introduced by two different airlines in summer 2018, are all being operated during the winter months. In January, Malta International Airport’s traditional top driver of passenger traffic, the United Kingdom (-3.2 per cent) was outperformed by the Italian market (-0.8 per cent), by 604 passenger movements, and followed by the German market (-8.3). Outside the top five markets, traffic from Hungary was up a noteworthy 42.4 per cent. This surge can be attributed to the extension of the Budapest route from summer 2018 into winter. The encouraging results being registered by the Hungarian market are expected to be further reinforced through the introduction of a flight to Debrecen in summer 2019.