The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association has made written submissions to the EU Commission advocating for the importance to keep Air Malta flying when considering how this operation is intertwined with the sustainability of the Tourism industry, growth of the economy and well-being of society in Malta.
Following the latest report issued by the DG for Competition EU in response to the Air Malta restructuring plans, the MHRA informed the EU institution that the tourism industry in Malta accounts directly for: 10% of our GNP; 14% of government income; 10% of employment; and 6% on imports and outflows.
MHRA also highlighted that when other indirect impacts are taken into account, these figures increase to 29% of GNP, 33% of government income, 29% of employment and 16% of imports and outflows. MHRA asserted that the industry is 97% dependent on tourists arriving by air and Airmalta at present has a 55% share of those arrivals. The Association further pointed out that a considerable amount of the other 45% is carried by Low Cost Carriers and a lesser amount is carried by other legacy carriers. MHRA also stated that most of the MICE business (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events), which is extremely important for the winter business for 4 and 5 star hotels, is carried by Air Malta and this would be in great risk if the airline had to be stopped from flying.
In the above context, MHRA demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between the number of seats available and the number of tourists arriving in Malta. Indeed, any decrease of seats would have a negative impact on arrivals and consequently on the economy of Malta and Government income from tax thereby risking increasing Government’s deficit. MHRA also pointed out that the share of the European air transport market of Air Malta is below half percent and consequently the survival of Air Malta does not pose any risks to competition in the air transport market.
MHRA President Mr Tony Zahra stated that Air Malta is of immense importance to the Tourism industry and that MHRA is determined to support Government and Air Malta in their requests to the EU to keep the national airline flying. Mr Zahra asserted that “We just cannot lose this battle because the consequences can be very painful for all.”