Malta will have more European connections than London’s Heathrow Airport next summer, according to low cost airline Ryanair.

David O’Brien, the airline’s chief commercial officer, on Tuesday announced 10 new European routes that will be added to current connections to and from the island in summer 2019.

“This is quite something - when you consider that with these new additions, Malta will have more European connections than Heathrow,” he said.

The new connections will be Cardiff and Exeter in the UK, Lamezia and Perugia in Italy, Nantes in France , Cork in Ireland, Luxembourg, Thessaloniki in Greece, Maastricht in the Netherlands, and Oslo in Norway.

Mr O’Brien said Ryanair had carried more than three million passengers to and from Malta last year. Next year the airline hopes to increase this by 15 per cent.

Malta Tourism Authority head Gavin Gulia said the increase in flights was coordinated in conjunction with national authorities as part of a holistic strategy to boost tourism.

Asked how the new destinations were picked, Mr O’Brien said this was the fruit of open dialogue.

“We do not base ourselves on market research as it is often wrong. Research can be backwards looking. If you look at the research, Ryanair technically shouldn’t even exist. That is why we work so well with the Maltese authorities, who are forward-looking,” he said.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said the announcement was positive for the sector, but was quick to point out that Malta was more than a summer destination.

Arrivals figures, he said, showed how tourism was being spread throughout the year, more than ever before.

Meanwhile the low cost airline also announced its annual summer sale, which will run until September 13. 

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