The UK returned as Malta's top travel market in August - a position it hasn't held since COVID-19 hit the country.

Malta International Airport said the market had recovered at a "faster-than-envisaged pace" and outperformed Italy to regain the top spot for the first time since April 2020.

Overall, 407,435 passengers arrived and departed from the airport in August, which is equivalent to 50 per cent of the traffic handled in August 2019.

Every flight operated with an average of 111 passengers on board, which is 28 per cent down from August 2019.

Last month the airport said Malta air travel was recovering at a slower pace than its southern counterparts.

'Surpassed initial expectations'

But Malta Airport's company secretary Louis de Gabriele struck a cautiously positive note when announcing the August traffic results. 

He said there had been a "solid performance" in the French and Polish markets, with flights from both countries typically 80 per cent full. 

"Although August's traffic results surpassed initial expectations, the travel industry remains in the shadow of changing entry requirements, uncertainty and short-term planning, as the aviation winter season looms on the horizon," he said.

The airport is currently finalising its flight schedule for the next season. 

Malta brought in strict travel rules in July, allowing only fully vaccinated travellers to enter from red-list countries without quarantining. 

There is also a travel ban on around 70 dark-list countries and anyone allowed to enter must stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of €1,400. 

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