In December nearly 255,000 passengers went through Malta International Airport. This marked an increase of nearly 450% over the same month a year earlier.
Relative to the pre-pandemic level of passenger traffic we were at 53%. This was five times better than the situation in December 2020, when passenger traffic was a mere 10% of pre-pandemic activity. That said the ratio was the lowest seen since August 2021. However, one has to put this ratio into perspective. It is only in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 that we had passenger movements in December which exceeded those seen last December. Passenger activity last December was a fifth higher than it had been in December 2012.
There was more passenger movement during December than there was in June. More people were willing to come to Malta in December, traditionally not one of Malta’s strongest months, than there were in June, which is traditionally one of the most important months of the tourist calendar.
The extent of the recovery becomes even more evident when one notes that more people travelled to Malta in December 2021 than they had done in August 2020, which had been the strongest month of tourism in 2020.
More people were willing to come to Malta in December, traditionally not one of Malta’s strongest months, than there were in June.
Looking at the whole year as a whole, 2.5 million passengers travelled through Malta International Airport in 2021, 45% more than in 2020. Keeping in mind that in the first part of 2020 traffic had not been affected by the pandemic, but had even been higher than in 2019.
If we look at the months April to December, the improvement is exceptional. Whereas in the last nine months of 2020 there were 0.7 million passenger movements, in the same period of 2021 there were 2.4 million. More than three times as many people passed through our airport. When compared to 2019 levels for the same nine months, we are talking of movements equal to 40% of the pre-pandemic level.
Moreover, official statistics indicate that throughout 2021 tourists were each spending on average nearly 15% more. This means that taking everything into consideration revenues during most of last year were hovering close to two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels.
If the increase in per capita tourist spend is maintained, Malta will not need the same amount of tourists as it had pre-pandemic to recover the same amount of overall revenue.
This would be a very welcome development that would lessen pressure on our islands and help foster a more sustainable environment.