The Malta International Airport registered a €7million net profit last year, up from a loss of over €4.3million in 2020, CEO Alan Borg told an annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Despite the increase, this is still significantly lower than 2019’s profit after tax which amounted to €33.9 million. The year 2021, Borg noted, was dominated by the COVID pandemic’s impact on consumer confidence and, consequently passenger numbers.

Malta ended the year with 2.54 million passengers – marking a recovery of just 35% of 2019 traffic. This compared to 40% recovery levels across Europe.

In fact, there was a record 7.31million passengers who travelled through the airport in 2019, dropping sharply to just 1.75 million in 2020 and increasing slightly to 2.54 million in 2021.

The worst months for the year were January through to April, with less than 50,000 passengers making it through MIA each month. Passenger movement picked up in June when the UK included the islands on its green list, reaching nearly 200,000 passengers.

The figures continued to increase, peaking in October, however, the surfacing of the Omicron variant dealt consumer confidence another blow and in November, passenger movement dropped again.

But despite registering just a third of 2019 numbers, the company closed 2021 with a €6.9million net profit – which Borg said “speaks volumes” about consistent cost-cutting and the airport’s team effort.

Breaking down the data, Borg noted that in 2021, total revenue increased by 47.4% over 2020, a year that had seen a drop of 67.9% over 2019 figures.

Capital expenditure dropped by 43.6%, as did the average employee count (-12.7%) over 2020.

Borg noted that the airport did not hire new employees to replace those who left the team, while all employees sacrificed a portion of their salary in the initial months of 2021.

For the second year, the airport asked shareholders not to declare a dividend.

‘COVID set us back two decades’

Earlier, MIA chair Nikolaus Gretzmacher, who opened the airport's 30th AGM on Wednesday told shareholders that the pandemic set the MIA back two decades in terms of passenger numbers.

Two million passengers had travelled through MIA in 1992, compared to 2.5million in 2021.

“While many Mediterranean destinations will be targeting tourists this summer, with difficult competition from countries like Cypris, Greece and Portugal, we will be doing our utmost to ensure we put up a good fight through solid and good connectivity,” he said, adding that having 98 routes in 33 countries augured well for the coming months.

“We experienced many false starts to our recovery in the past two years, but we firmly believe we have come to a point where all industry stakeholders must only look ahead and ask where we want to take the industry in the coming years.”

Where did people come from in 2021?

The top markets remained Italy and the UK, with Poland registering the biggest recovery.

One out of every five passengers travelled from Italy (19.3%) or the UK (18.9%), with the markets registering a 46% and 40.3% improvement over 2020.

Germany and France ranked third and fourth in the top market list, with 12.2% and 9.4% share each, followed by Poland.

Polish passengers made up 5.7% of travellers, marking a nearly 80% improvement over 2030, and just a drop of 38% from 2019 figures.

Ryanair retained the highest market share (44%), followed by AirMalta (23.5%).

How is 2022 fairing?

The first quarter was a “difficult and tough” one for the aiport, Borg said, with April being the “star month” following Easter holiday travel and the easing of restrictions.

In the first four months of the year, nearly 673,000 passengers travelled through the airport, compared to less than 100,000 in the first quarter of 2021 but over 1.2million in 2019.

This means that 44% fewer passengers made it through MIA in the first quarter of this year when compared to pre-pandemic times.

Seat capacity, however, dropped by 35.4% between 2019 and 2022, while the seat load factor registered an even smaller drop: of 10.2%.

Borg warned that the war in Ukraine will impact consumer confidence and purchasing power of people in core markets as inflation continued to dominate markets.

Despite still being in a recovery phase, he noted that 2022 should be a “good year” for MIA.


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