Air Malta Wants To Fly To New York

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Malta is a country with a big tourism industry, and it’s something they’re hoping to grow even further over the coming years. The national airline, Air Malta, operates a fleet of nine Airbus A319/A320 aircraft.

They operate these planes to destinations across Europe, though they’re not exactly a big player, with limited frequencies to most destinations.

The airline is now eying longhaul service. While it’s still a few years off, it does seem like they’re serious about it.

Air Malta wants to fly to New York, Toronto, and Mumbai

Malta’s Tourism Minister has indicated that the national airline is considering flights to destinations like New York, Toronto, and Mumbai. They don’t want a widebody aircraft, but rather are studying the possibility of acquiring some extended range Airbus A321 aircraft, like the A321LR.

He noted that the North American market already yielded 45,000 tourists annually in Malta (~120 per day), and he thinks there’s big room for growth.

Air Malta is primarily government owned, and it’s understandable that the airline sees value in more direct air service as a way of increasing trade and tourism.

Air Malta has already flown to New York

Interestingly Air Malta has actually already operated flights to New York. In the summer of 2000 Air Malta sold a flight from Malta to New York, which refueled in Shannon. This was a wet lease flight, as it was operated by an ATA Boeing 757.

The flight was only operated for a single summer, which sure makes me believe it didn’t perform very well.

My take on Air Malta’s expansion goals

My first thought in hearing about this is that these routes seem at the far outer edges of what the A321LR is capable of. Malta to Toronto is ~4,760 miles, which isn’t easily within the range of the plane.

Furthermore, like many places in Europe, Malta is a seasonal destination. I would assume a bulk of tourists visiting from North America would go in summer, in which case operating flights year-round seems questionable.

This sure seems like a situation where the airline might be better off either leasing a plane seasonally, or otherwise the government should maybe instead provide some sort of incentives for airlines to start service (though even with incentives/subsidies, I imagine a flight for a country with “just” 45,000 tourists per year from North America won’t be of much interest to airlines).

I’ll be curious to see how this situation with Air Malta evolves, though I like that they’re thinking big.

What do you think — will Air Malta operate longhaul flights, or are they just dreaming?

(Featured image courtesy of Russell Lee)

  1. Having lived in Malta for many years, our main gateway to the rest of the world was through Rome. It would certainly be nice for Air Malta to expand, but the tourism ministry would have to campaign vigorously to publicize the gem of islands. Very few outside Europe know of Malta and the majority of tourists (when we lived their prior to Malta joining the EU) were senior British citizens looking for some sun. The airport would also need to be enlarged – there was a single VIP lounge used for officials and diplomats like my family.

  2. Agreed with the government providing incentives to other airlines to fly there seasonally instead. I can see maybe Delta doing it from JFK during the summer season but I doubt it. There are plenty of convenient one-stop options from North America.

  3. From the pics I’ve seen, would love to visit Malta. And if there were a direct flight from NYC, it would be a no-brainer for me (as opposed to needing to justify it as a smaller part of a longer trip to somewhere else in Europe).

  4. They’re properly looking to Emirates who is already operating a fifth freedom route between Malta and Cyprus to fly from Malta to the US.

    The airport does need work doing although the one and only business class lounge has been recently renovated, with a great outdoor area overlooking the apron and runway – that’s if the heat is bearable enough to sit outside in the summer.

  5. Malta is a wonderful destination. As stated before, it needs a boost so people know more the Archipielago. However, going there is great: scenic panoramas, architecture, culture, and affordable.

  6. Malta is lovely during low season but they would need to figure out a way to advertise themselves better in North America, where not many people know about them. Otherwise, architecture, history, food are all major attractions. IMHO, Valetta is one of the most pleasant cities in Europe.

    They also make some really good wine that is almost impossible to get outside of Malta. They don’t even bother exporting it – with 2+ million visitors, it gets drunk or taken away by tourists.

  7. If I could be the CEO of the airlines, I would purchase 50 A380 to fly to Caracas, Pyongyang, Havana, Tripoli and Damascus, and every state capital in US to bring those people in, and few B330-300LR to fly to Tahiti and let the Maltans to fly for free. Shame they don’t elect me as rhe CEO or they’d be the most profitable one in the world

  8. Malta is amazing but the airport is clearly beyond capacity based on what I’ve experienced. There are cheap Ryanair flights in low season from continental Europe but I also wonder if there could be demand at e.g. Christmas time from North America. Frankly the weather is ideal for a Christmas holiday there.

  9. Lucky, want to do a trip report on JFK-MLA-BOM on a A321XLR in economy class? No way!

    There’s a slight chance I would take the flight. Since I would likely want to see two places, Malta and somewhere in Europe, an airline serving that other place in Europe has an advantage. For example, flying to London then Malta. If flying on Air Malta and there’s no partner, one would have to fly back to Malta on one leg.

  10. They already partner with a few Sky Team and Star Alliance airlines. If they could get Delta or United on-board to partner for connections in JFK/EWR could make this more viable. Or maybe a Oneworld connect partner…

  11. For some reason I thought Malta was southwest of Portugal. It seems like this route may be a little bit too long for the A321neoLR? I think the 787-8 or A330-800neo will work better for them.

  12. I was there many years ago in October and it was still unbelievably hot. I can’t imagine what summer is like.

    I’d imagine that most people would need to connect anyway so unless there’s some huge Maltese population in NY or TO I don’t know that a little narrowbody A321 would be especially enticing to people who have to connect. I flew via Germany on LH when I went there.

  13. I live in Malta (Half British / Half Maltese).

    I have flown Air Malta since I was a young child, from the full meal service on board to the hours wasted away in the cockpit (Pre 9/11) it really is a great Airline and the only one that serves Malta to Heathrow!

    @lucky I think you should review them! I also read a trip report on here about time spent in Malta and think you went to quite possibly the worst part of the Island! Phoenicia Hotel Valletta is a great hotel and right on the door of the capital.

    I hope it works out for the them they have been struggling for years but look to be back in the black instead of the Red.

  14. I would say with A350 or B787 they could offer one stop YYZ-MLA-BOM or JFK-MLA-BOM and, perhaps, capture additional traffic between North America and India. Perhaps, a free stopover at MLA?

  15. I had the pleasure to recently visit Malta, what a stunning place. However a direct flight from NYC, on Air Malta is a far hope from profitability. Most USA market would want to combine Malta with Europe as a destination. However that said Emirates utilizing 5th Freedom, like it does with Milano and Athens. Can change the dynamics of the island forever in a good way.

  16. Air Malta is a good little airline however their newer planes have abominable legroom to the point where even the crew are embarrassed. Their old fashioned full meal service is fabulous. They partner closely with LH Group in Europe.

    Malta in general is booming, as is its tourism, and it will probably benefit from Brexit too. It’s very popular with the European package holiday market. It makes sense for them to open up to long haul traffic, although I’d imagine it’ll be in LCC form.

    The airport is FANTASTIC, probably one of the nicest in Europe, and the new shared Business Class lounge with outdoor terrace overlooking the runway is really lovely.

    The runway (not terminal) is A380 capable as airline maintenance is big business at MLA. You might remember seeing the Hi-FLY A380 there. Lufthansa Technik does a lot of work there too. It’s fun seeing heavies there, and obviously the EK777 is there daily too.

    Really interested to see if anything comes of this, if not with Air Malta, with EK or a LCC.

  17. I am heading to Malta this week. I was surprised by how limited the options were, particularly as I needed to stay on Star Alliance. It was even more difficult to find something that worked with UA flights where I could confirm GPUs in both directions on booking, but ultimately I was successful (going through ORD and FRA).

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