Air Malta suffered flight disruptions between May and June 2018, mainly due to expansion of operations without an adequate fleet to support it. As the airline receives its first A320neo, Air Malta Chairman Charles Mangion commented for AeroTime via email on the current situation as well as the long-term objectives of the company.

Air Malta has had difficulties lately to operate flights, leading to the company’s CCO to request for a lessor on LinkedIn. What lead to this situation?

Air Malta has unfortunately suffered a delay of a few weeks in the delivery of a new aircraft. The wet leased aircraft had to undergo unexpected maintenance and no other aircraft from lessors was available. The airline had thus no choice but to cancel some flights.

Other delays were suffered due to Air Traffic Control restrictions and weather disruptions amongst others.

Is the situation to improve in a near future?

The situation is expected to improve with the arrival now of a brand new 180 seater Airbus A320neo. The airline now has the full fleet complement for summer 18 at its disposal.

With the ambition to become a “hub between Europe and Africa”, how does Air Malta plan to overcome the already established companies (Royal Air Maroc, Air Algerie and Tunisair) which have set themselves the same goal?

This is an ambitious long term plan we intend to follow to enable the airline to continue on its path of growth.

Last year we launched over 17 new routes and have commenced services between Malta, Catania, and Sardinia to Vienna and/or London Southend, that are all doing very well.

Next year we intend to focus on growing all these routes and develop the airline to not only grow in Malta, but also connect the Mediterranean region better.

After Alitalia’s failure, is Air Malta still looking for a buyout? Maybe a strategic partnership?

A strategic partnership option is not something Air Malta is pursuing at the moment.

After many years of negative results, indications for the yet to be audited accounts for 2017/18 show that Air Malta has managed to break even, and the priority now is to build on this positive performance and to continue to grow the airline. The option of a strategic partnership may, however, be looked into in the medium to long term.