Updated at 2.20pm

Malta's national airline was not “out of the woods yet” despite registering a slight profit for the first time in almost two decades, chairman Charles Mangion said on Saturday.

Air Malta registered a profit of €1.2 million, fuelled by an increase in revenue of over €7 million generated by an increase in passenger traffic of around 11 per cent and decreasing fuel costs, a news conference was told. 

The airline had registered a loss of €10.8 million in 2017. 

Paul Sies, Air Malta’s Chief Commercial Officer said during the financial
year capacity was increased by 20 per cent with new routes generating a €12 million increase in revenue.

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

“In spite of these positive results, we cannot rest on our laurels. A lot more needs to be done to get the company out of the woods and on firm sustainable grounds,” Dr Mangion said.

Read: New airline will not compete with Air Malta, Tourism Minister insists

He said the airline needed to continue to adapt to change, adding other airlines and low-fare carriers will continue to pose challenges.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi hailed the turnaround, insisting that the airline had better operational control and was registering success in ticket sales.

The airline is now in a position to change its fleet and will receive two new aircraft in the coming months, the minister said, adding there were plans to also open a pilot academy in the future.

Summer schedule

During the conference Mr Sies announced the highlights of the airline’s schedule for this summer which include increased frequencies to and from Paris Charles De Gaulle, Hamburg, Kiev, London Heathrow, Lyon, Munich and Tunis.

He also announced that after an absence of 12 years Air Malta is planning to resume flights to Egypt’s capital, Cairo and for the first time the airline will also offer scheduled services to/from Warsaw.

CEO Clifford Chetcuti said the airline was looking at destinations in the Scandinavian and Eastern European regions, adding it will also look at long-haul flights to countries like India and sub-Saharan regions.

He echoed the airline chairman's warning that Air Malta could not afford to "become complacent", with fluctuating fuel prices and increased competitive pressures still posing challenges.

The airline’s strategy was starting to pay off, he said, adding this was only the beginning of the new horizons Air Malta had set its sights on.

The airline played “a pivotal role in the economic growth” of the country, but its expansion had to be sustainable, Capt. Chetcuti said.