The price of flights from Malta has risen more than usual at this time of year due to increasing demand for travel and reduced availability of flights and seats.
Malta International Airport confirmed that the number of routes has fallen 22 percent from pre-pandemic levels and the flight capacity for the summer is 80 percent by 2019, taking Malta back to the figures for 2015 and 2016.
The airport will offer 98 routes this summer as opposed to 125 in 2019.
By the time the island had eased its COVID travel restrictions in the spring, most airlines had already secured their summer routes, resulting in a loss of 66 connections “completely”, as well as lost frequencies of 46 connections, the airport said.
The national airline, Air Malta, has attributed higher prices to demand due to travel in the high season after COVID.
Travel agencies also point to the fall in availability and frequency of high seat prices.
Travel agency Georges Bonello DuPuis confirmed that flights were “very expensive” at the moment.
He put it down to their “minimal availability and frequency” combined with the end of school, the start of summer and a post-pandemic rush to travel after such a long break for many.
Although it was normal for prices to rise at this time of year – as they did during intermediate holidays, for example – Bonello DuPuis maintained that airline tickets were slightly more expensive than usual this summer due to fewer scheduled flights.
The cheap prices were “all gone today” – and anyone who wants to fly out may have to pay everything in the area around € 500 and more. The economic flights to the popular destinations through the summer are now “few and far between”.
Seats are currently not even available in full price business class to popular destinations such as Germany, the UK and Paris, said Bonello DuPuis.
However, the situation will soon stabilize, he added.
“There is a massive demand and fewer seats as fewer planes fly in and out and more people travel,” said the experienced travel agent.
Destinations such as Italy, and especially Rome, were not as affected by accessibility as it was served by three carriers daily, he added.
There is a massive demand and fewer seats as fewer planes fly in and out and more people travel
But Emirates, for example, was down to twice weekly flights and only now began to increase the frequency, going up to five times a week in July and August.
Flights to London have declined in frequency, with no more daily flights to Gatwick on Air Malta. Anyone wishing to travel with the national airline to the UK capital on June 23, for example, would have found one seat left for Heathrow and one for Gatwick – for a staggering € 409.53 one way – and without luggage.
On June 29, there were “zero” seats available for London except for € 409 one way. On July 3, two seats for Gatwick were left at the time of writing – and these go down to € 189.53 one way.
Random checks showed that on July 24, for example, cheaper seats are available as things begin to stabilize in mid-summer when a kind of “normality” is resumed, Bonello DuPuis said.
For € 99.53 you can get to Gatwick – but not back home – on Air Malta, but you have to add an additional € 20 to bring your belongings.
Air Malta said last week that they were leasing an extra plane to meet the demand for travel, although it did not provide any details about destinations.
Bonello DuPuis pointed out that places like Bari and Brindisi could still be reached without breaking the bank, but that was another story for popular destinations like Marseille for a trip to the south of France.
“Just the other day I tried to book a flight to Bergamo on Ryanair for a family of two adults and two children, with only two suitcases, for the end of June. The “low cost” flight came to € 1,300.
“But if they travel two weeks later, you can find a flight for € 24,” Bonello DuPuis continued.
High prices explained
He explained that high prices – in the range of € 400 to € 600 – have always existed and that it depended on when tickets were purchased.
“If you’re trying to book a flight that no one thinks of in, say, February, it can be as cheap as € 60, but you can also pay € 600 for a full-price, fully refundable business class ticket on scheduled airlines.
“Low cost flights always start low, but increase every time you look again. There is a different price every day,” he said.
“You have to shop around, and a date can make all the difference in travel prices,” advised Bonello DuPuis, reminding travelers of the trends that dictate prices and of thinking ahead.
That said, the return flight from London bought a month ago for a trip as far away as October cost € 560 return on British Airways, he said, pointing to the intermediate holiday. In November, the same trip can cost half the price.
Air Malta explained its air fares and said that they constantly reviewed this according to demand, supply, competition and other factors, and said that this could lead to prices either increasing or decreasing.
“There is also no fixed equation for applying the same levels of price reductions or increases on all routes, while market conditions are often different across markets,” the airline said.
“In the immediate months ahead, when they come out of COVID-19 and are the peak travel period in July and August, when demand often exceeds supply, prices will be expected to be higher than in the later calmer months of the year. When demand for travel is less and air fares are naturally lower. “
The low-cost airline Ryanair said that a number of return and price factors dictated air fares, and the prices for the most “forthcoming” flights – with the highest demand and in the high season – are higher for these reasons.
Insisting that it offered “consistently low fares and a good choice on its Maltese routes across Europe”, with over 700,000 flights – 130 million seats – on sale at any one time, it cited examples of flights from Malta to Rome and London Stansted this summer, available for € 19.99 and € 62.99 respectively.
Ryanair said it had kept its teams “current” through COVID-19 so they could respond to pent-up customer demand.
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