Its expanding route network and the growing year-round appeal of Malta means that the island nation’s international airport is already so confident of a good 2019 that it has predicted that a record 7.2 million passengers (+5.8%) will pass through its facilities this year.
A bold forecast, certainly, but perhaps it’s not so surprising when you consider that passenger numbers at Malta International Airport have soared by 47% over the last three years and reached an all-time high of 6.8 million (+13.2%) in 2018.
CEO, Alan Borg, notes that the airport achieved its target of serving over 100 destinations during its summer schedules for the first time in 2018, and that traffic to its five top markets – the UK, Italy, Germany, France and Spain – increased by between 2% and 37.8% during the year.
The fact that passenger growth during the airport’s shoulder and winter months outpaced that of its peak summer months was also significant, says Borg, who attributes the development down to nine airlines extending their routes or increased frequencies into the winter schedules.
Looking ahead to summer 2019, Borg reveals that the airport’s route network will feature 18 new developments, including flights to Amman and the launch of daily operations to Doha by newcomer Qatar Airways.
Malta’s Minister for Tourism, Konrad Mizzi, says: “The Government of Malta works collaboratively with Malta International Airport on a strategy of growth and route network expansion.
“By means of the significant investment programme which is being rolled out, Malta will continue to improve airline connectivity across neighbouring and strategically important areas.”
Boost for Brisbane
AirAsia has announced it will launch services between Bangkok and Brisbane from June 25, 2019.
Operated by AirAsia’s Thai affiliate, Thai AirAsia X, the new services will bring around 25,000 visitors per year to Brisbane (BNE), while at the same time providing the opportunity for Queenslanders to explore Thailand’s capital and its many exotic island destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi.
Brisbane Airport Corporation secured the services with Queensland government support under the Attracting Aviation Investment Fund (AAIF), along with partners Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane Marketing.
Airport CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff, says: “With Brisbane’s new runway opening in less than 18 short months, the decision by AirAsia to bring its first-ever aircraft from the low-cost hub, Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok, to Brisbane, was a prudent move.
“Thailand is an aspirational destination for Australians and one of Brisbane Airport’s largest underserved markets, so AirAsia’s quality low fare flight options direct into the heart of Bangkok is sure to be very popular with travellers.”
BNE will also be celebrating the return of Royal Brunei Airlines in June when it returns to Queensland with the launch of four weekly flights between Brisbane and Brunei capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.
Norwegian will launch a new non-stop B787 Dreamlliner service from Athens to New York-JFK on July 1 – its first long-haul route in Greece.
Greek Minister of Tourism, Elena Kountoura, said: “This news is a response to our call for enhancing air connectivity between Greece and the United States and we thank Norwegian for answering the demand. We welcome Norwegian to Greece and expect this new route to contribute in the growing numbers of tourists to our country.”
Nice Côte d’Azur will become the first French airport outside of Paris to have a direct flight to Kuwait when Kuwait Airways launched a new twice-weekly B777-300 service from June 3 to September 12.
Outbound services from Terminal 1 will be non-stop, but inbound flights will operate via Paris CDG where Nice bound passengers will remain onboard the aircraft.
“This new international connection to and from Kuwait strengthens our dynamic and unique offer for long-haul flights,” enthuses Dominique Thillaud, chairman of the Board of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur.
“It is a great opportunity for local economic development, with high-potential tourist passengers. It also actively boosts the global appeal of the Riviera.”