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Malta International Airport (MIA) optimistic easing of Covid-19 restrictions will push number of travellers up in Malta

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Malta Business Weekly MIA OPTIMISTIC EASING OF COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS WILL PUSH NUMBER OF TRAVELLERS UPThe Malta International Airport is optimistic that the easing of Covid-19 restrictions will encourage more people to travel.

Speaking at the MIA’s 30th annual general meeting, chairman of the MIA Nikolaus Gretzmacher said that in 2021, MIA ended the year with 2.54 million passenger movements which marked a recovery of 35% over traffic in 2019, translating to a third of record numbers pre-pandemic. Gretzmacher said that despite this percentage, the company was successful in closing the year with a net profit of €7 million by effectively adopting a cost-cutting programme.

MIA Chief Executive Officer Alan Borg presented the financial results for the year of 2021. He said that the pandemic was a crisis which set the industry back decades.The total revenue of the company in 2021 was €47.4 million, a change of 47.4% from the 2020 revenue. The Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) for 2021 recorded €24.1 millionCapital expenditure for 2021 was that of €9.2 million, a decrease from the 2020 expenditure of €16.3 million.

Borg said that all staff had to sacrifice a percentage of their salary during the year, which led to a 21.7% reduction on staff costs from 2020. In 2021, €6,774,849 was spent on staff. 

The total comprehensive income/loss for 2021 was that of €6,973,954. Borg said that marketing and communications costs, as well as other operating expenses took a hit during the year and were done when absolutely necessary. He said that expenses in this regard had to be reduced accordingly.

The total other operating expenses amounted to €16,371,370, a 7.5% decrease from that of 2020.

With regards to share performance and stock prices, Borg said that the stock prices recovered well and the MIA is still the largest entity on the Malta stock exchange. The stock price at year end in 2021 was that of €6 million.

Borg said that Malta’s growth rate in terms of yearly traffic performance since 2015 has been increasingly high, which, however, dropped significantly in 2020. 2019 numbers recorded 7.31 million passengers, which dropped substantially 1.75 million passengers in 2020. Moreover, 2021 recorded 2.54 million passengers, showing a slow recovery.

Seat capacity recovered at a faster pace, with 4,135,138 seats in 2021. Borg said that consumer confidence during the pandemic decreased, meaning that travel reservations were often made at the last minute, as pandemic restrictions around Europe were not coordinated.

2021 saw an increase in passenger numbers in the month of June, as the summer period started. With the introduction of the Omicron variant nearing the end of the year, passenger numbers started to diminish in the months of November and December, and the decline continued in January and February in 2022. Borg said that the top markets for 2021 were the destinations of Italy and the United Kingdom, particularly for the UK as it had put Malta on its green list.

The market share for Italy was 19.3%, with 490,028 passenger movements. Following closely was the United Kingdom with a market share of 18.9% and 480,972 passenger movements. Germany, France and Poland followed suit, with France and Poland marking higher percentage changes between the years of 2020 and 2021, (89.8% and 79.9% respectively)

Borg expressed satisfaction that airline partners have kept arriving at the airport. Ryanair and Air Malta remained the two top airlines for the year of 2021, with a market share of 44% and 23.5% respectively.

Borg also gave a brief overview for the year of 2022, which saw a difficult first quarter due to the Omicron variant. The month of March saw some improvements; however, April was the star month thus far, with the easing of restrictions, Easter holidays, and the launch of the summer schedule, factoring in to the increase of passenger movements.

2022 saw 672,965 passengers thus far, exceeding the 500,000-passenger mark and up from the 98,493 passengers in 2021. Borg said that he hopes to see the trend moving forward throughout the year.

Borg spoke about what is next on the schedule for MIA, which is the re-introduction of more airlines such as British Airways, Swiss and Lufthansa.

Air Malta will continue to focus on primary hubs and key airports, and Ryanair will continue to focus on secondary airports, flying to over 70 destinations, Borg said.

Several investment projects have been underway, one of which is the €2 million food court within the airport. SkyParks 2 is also another investment which will include a multi-purpose building, strengthening the company’s retail and property segment.

The Apron X project, an investment of approximately €40 million, will include aircraft parking stands accommodating seven Code C or three Code E aircrafts, a taxiway improving accessibility, a staging area for ground handling operations and a 10,000 m3 reservoir for better rainwater harvesting. The first parking stands are expected to be ready for use by summer 2024, while the project will be completed in 2026.

Borg said that the company’s efforts to become net zero for carbon emissions by 2050 includes the replacement of unrecyclable and single-use items with environmentally friendly alternatives. He said that in 2021, the airport’s fourth photovoltaic system with a capacity of 760 kWp was installed.

He said that there will be new challenges and uncertainties due to inflation and the Ukrainian war, which will impact consumer confidence, however Borg said that there is still a positive trend and hopes for recovery continue.

The airport’s schedule for summer features 98 routes in 33 countries, making a recovery of around 80% of pre-pandemic connectivity for the season, Borg said. Cyprus, Greece and Portugal remain the top direct fierce competitors who are recovering at a faster pace.

 

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