10
Dec

Air Malta looks at the Airbus A220 as it develops new strategy to provide links from the islands of the Mediterranean

Having completed a widespread business restructuring, Air Malta is now exploring a move to perhaps bring in a smaller fleet of sub 150-seater aircraft to complement its Airbus A320s and provide links connecting the islands of the Mediterranean with their homeland.

It is early stages, but the airline’s chairman Dr Charles Mangion exclusively revealed to us at the recent CAPA – Centre for Aviation World Aviation Outlook Summit in Berlin, Germany that the plan is to acquire some Airbus A220s (formerly the Bombardier CSeries) to serve a number of markets that would not be sustainable with its larger A320 equipment.

“We are looking at the [Airbus] A220 for operation on shorter distances to develop a concept of Air Malta as the airline of the Mediterranean,” explains Dr Mangion. “The A220s offer the opportunity for short-haul flying over one hour and one hour and a half. You can do it more frequently, connecting an island to the mainline.”

Air Malta has yet to define its business needs with regard to the A220. The introduction of a smaller aircraft will certainly help support its network activities, especially with suggestions that it may expand into some longer-distance markets in the future. However, it will deliver some obvious complexities in terms of crewing and support resources.

It is an ambitious move for an airline that has struggled to find its own identity in an increasingly competitive market. Air Malta had been unprofitable for nearly 20 years as it has struggled to overcome multiple challenges, including increasing competition from LCCs, outdated work practices and tensions in the North Africa market, which impacted its traditionally strongest routes.

However, the airline has rebuilt its operations with a more financially viable business model and hybrid product that now allows it to compete with LCCs. It has in fact entered a partnership with Ryanair whereby the LCC is selling Air Malta flights via its own website.

You can find out more about this development and the airline’s turnaround in this feature produced for The Blue Swan DailyAir Malta looks at the Airbus A220 as it develops new strategy to provide links from the islands of the Mediterranean