Qatar Airways has suspended its Malta flights amid concerns that the route is commercially unviable, as the COVID-19 pandemic ruins demand for air travel.

The airline said on Thursday that it has advised stakeholders and passengers impacted by the decision and was working to offer them alternative travel options or full refunds.

“An ongoing review is being conducted and the intention is to reinstate flights in line with a return to regular conditions and market demand,” the airline said, adding that its intention was to continue operating “as many flights as possible”.

Qatar Airways flew a daily flight between Malta and Qatar’s capital, Doha, in summer and a reduced schedule in winter. It also served as a bridge airline to other long-haul destinations in Africa and Asia.

Malta’s network of air routes has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a Central Bank analysis last month finding that the country’s air connectivity had reverted to 2005 levels during the pandemic.

Major airlines such as Ryanair have slashed their flight schedules while others, such as Emirates, have cancelled their Malta flights.

Passenger movements at Malta International Airport were down more than 70 per cent in October when compared to 12 months prior, with MIA saying it was gearing up for its most challenging winter ever.  

As concerns mount about the long-term impact of reduced air connectivity, aviation authorities have entered into talks with international airlines to ensure routes were maintained or restored once market conditions improved. 

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