Air Malta Part 1: no longer the biggest airline in Malta as it struggles with rising LCC competition

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On 13-Jan-2017 Alitalia and Air Malta jointly announced that the two had ended talks about a possible investment by the Italian airline in its Maltese counterpart. This throws the spotlight once more on Air Malta's struggle for viability in an increasingly competitive market.

In 2016 Air Malta cut its seat capacity by 12% and reduced its fleet by two, to eight aircraft. Having discontinued its North Africa routes, it is a Europe-only airline with no long haul network, focusing on point to point routes. A series of codeshares, including a new agreement with Alitalia, provide it with offline only access to long haul destinations.

Air Malta's highly seasonal and strongly leisure focused network is facing growing competition from LCCs. Indeed, its 2016 contraction coincided with expansion by Ryanair, which is now the biggest airline by seats to/from Malta. Modest capacity expansion is currently scheduled for 2017, but this is based on fewer routes, with more frequencies to partner hub airports.

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