WTM: New London Link for Malta?

Caroline Cook, deputy editor of our sister publication, Routes News, reports from the World Travel Market in London.

Discussions are in place to set up a new London-Malta route.

Martin Zahra, CEO of specialist tour operator Belleair Holidays, spoke to Routes News at the World Travel Market about development of the island’s tourism industry.

He said that the anticipated British Airways service would “create a new market for us”.

He continued: “We used to work with BA when they operated to Malta before. We understand that there is still a sector of the market that is quite loyal.

“We’re keen to tap that audience again. We’re talking to BA at the minute and deciding what the best route is, so it’s not cast in stone, but we will be supporting the service.”

Zahra said the route would allow Belleair to offer its existing customers an alternative option for travel to Malta, as well as opening up new potential for the travelling public.

While discussions take place to decide on capacity needs, agreements are already in place for a service from London Gatwick four times a week.

Currently, Malta’s busiest traffic comes from Brussels and Rome, while a number of UK airports offer two to three weekly frequencies.

Malta now reached 1.2 million UK visitors annually but there are hopes that this will increase.

“On a seasonal basis, there is still room for growth,” said Zahra. “In the greater scope of things, we expect a small percentage increase with the BA flight.

“Next summer, we’re going to see high load factors. That’s where the growth is going to come.

“The tourist office is targeting 7% growth, which could be significant when you consider that this year, there have been serious drops, on the back of decreases in the number of visitors in 2012 as well.”

Zahra concluded: “We’re working to make sure that the quality of our product is maintained and we’re trying to make sure that we remain a value-for-money destination.”

This article was produced for Routesonline by the editorial team at our the world air service development magazine, Routes News and first appeared on their site.  For more information please click here.