Spanish low-cost airline clickair inaugurated its Malta-Barcelona route yesterday with the arrival of the airline’s first flight at Malta International Airport. The airline will operate the route on a twice-weekly basis until October, after which it will review its plans.
But, as clickair chief executive officer Alex Cruz said yesterday, “Continuity is our goal and by design we wish to remain in all the markets we have entered.”
Clickair, despite being just a little over one year old, is Barcelona’s biggest operator in terms of routes offered and is the biggest operator out of Seville in terms of both routes and passengers.
The airline expects to carry some 15,000 passengers between Malta and Barcelona this summer, some 80 percent of which are expected to be Spanish tourists.
Mr Cruz confirmed yesterday there are already a “great deal” of seats sold for this summer and that the Malta route in itself holds great potential.
The Malta Tourism Authority appears to have made something of a splash in Barcelona of late, Mr Cruz commented, adding that through the MTA’s efforts, “everyone is talking about Malta in Barcelona”.
MTA chairman Sam Mifsud said yesterday the MTA has spent some EUR200,000 on an intense marketing campaign in Barcelona, which has included billboards, newspaper and internet advertisements and television clips.
Also speaking yesterday, Tourism and Culture Minister Francis Zammit Dimech said the Spanish tourism market is very important for Malta, and that it is a growth market Malta has been eyeing for some time. As such, the introduction of clickair’s services is “welcome news”.
“We would like to see the Iberian market opened up further, possibly with the inclusion of new routes to Portugal,” he added.
With Iberia holding a 20 percent stake in the low cost company and with code sharing agreements in place, clickair’s flights are now appearing on the screens of every travel agent in the world.
While Ryanair also offers a route to Girona, some 100 kilometres from Barcelona, Mr Cruz stressed the clickair offering is a departure from what Ryanair has to offer, with more comfortable seats, the pending introduction of assigned seating and plans to eliminate check-in hassles for its customers.
Dr Zammit Dimech added that the six low cost carriers operating to and from Malta are expected to carry some 200,000 passengers over the year, adding that the share is meant to increase with time.
Tickets start at EUR30, including taxes, and Mr Cruz stressed the airline believes “wholeheartedly” in providing all inclusive fares and “if that is what people want, then that is what we must provide”. He adds that all inclusive ticket prices would be achieved one way or another and that the issue of taxes is worked around by the airline through its business models.
Last year four low cost carriers started operations in Malta - Meridiana from Bologna, Centralwings from Warsaw; Germanwings from Cologne and Stuttgart and Ryanair from Luton, Pisa and Dublin. Additionally, British Jet is carrying over 50,000 passengers from the UK.
On 25 April the government had published a call for proposals for airlines to operate new routes to and from Malta. All four routes were taken up by Ryanair, which will be operating from Bremen from 25 September and from Girona, Bari and Stockholm as from 30 October.