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Air Malta, Will We Ever Meet Again?  
User currently offlineknightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 20
Posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6662 times:

Background
This report covers the return trip of my summer vacation in Malta in July 2011. Initially I had not intended to write a report on this trip. On the return leg from Malta back to Zurich though, I decided that perhaps I should. For the two following reasons: first of all, Air Malta has these excellent upgrade offers available at check-in on flights departing from Malta, which allow you to upgrade to Business Class for only EUR99. The only snag is of course, that you don’t know until you arrive at the check-in counter whether upgrades are on offer on your flight or not.

The other reasons I wanted to write this report is that currently Air Malta is in very bad shape. De facto the airline in bankrupt and only able to stay operational thanks to a loan by the Maltese Government. With the funds provided with this loan already pretty much exhausted, the Air Malta pilot’s association have now decided to call a strike on 16 July 2011 to protest against the layoffs management announced earlier this summer. As a result, Air Malta has now issued a statement in all the Maltese papers calling passengers flying on the 16th to contact the airline to be reprotected onto other flights by other carriers. So not only will there be no money coming in, Air Malta will also have to pay to accommodate its passengers on other airlines. If the strike goes through, it may well end up being the famous straw that broke the camel’s back. So perhaps this may even have been my last flight with Air Malta.

The Trip
Flight: KM490
Date: 07.07. 2011
Aircraft: A 319
Seat: 3A
Departure Malta: 14:45
Arrival Zurich: 16:48

After a week at the lovely Phoenicia hotel, it was time to head home to Switzerland.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010070.jpg
Pool area of the Phoenicia.

On 3 July 2011 Transport Malta launched new bus services by Arriva, who also operate in London. The new service promised to be a vast improvement over those dirty, noisy rickety old buses previously in service. I was rather looking forward to trying out the new Arriva air conditioned bus service to the airport. But alas, this is Malta where things rarely go according to plan. When the service launched on Sunday, 3 July, over 50 drivers decided not to show up at work over their unhappiness with heir rosters. Add to that the fact that a number of the newly acquired Chinese buses caught fire because the air condition was on at full blast all day, I decided it would probably be a better idea to take a taxi instead…

I had checked in online at the hotel the day before. So when I arrived at the airport all I had to do was find the drop-off counter for the web check-in and that’s it. As it happened though, the Zurich flight was checking-in at the counters right next to mine. That’s when I say on the screen that the Zurich flight was available for a EUR99 upgrade. The process is pretty straightforward. When you arrive at the check-in desk you ask for the upgrade. If here are seats available, the agent makes a call to Air Malta’s revenue management, who alter your booking from Economy to Business Class. You then have to proceed to the ticketing counter for payment. Once the change MCOs have been issued you return to any check-in counter where you are handed the boarding pass for your flight in Business Class. Easy!

I went straight through security to the lounge, where I remained until the time my flight was supposed to board, dinking Kinnie and munching Pastizzi.

When I arrived at the gate, boarding had just started. The agent scanned by pass and wished me a pleasant journey. I then stepped out into the glistening sun, a cloudless, beautiful blue sky and the oppressive midday sun. As I crossed the tarmac to reach my aircraft I could feel the heels of my flipflops sticking to the ground from all the heat. Fortunately there was no long queue at the gangway and I was able to go straight up and enter the cool of the cabin. Otherwise I think I probably would have keeled over with sun stroke!

I was greeted at the door by an elegantly grey haired male purser and a younger female flight attendant. As they welcomed be I could not help but wonder how much longer they would still have a job. In any case, once I had settled in my seat the young flight attendant brought a tray with drinks, together with the Times of Malta and two of the national Maltese language newspapers, without me even asking for them, which I thought was very forthcoming.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010097.jpg
I took some water.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010098.jpg
View of the cabin and galley. There were seven passengers in Business Class.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010099.jpg
Glad I'm not out there in the heat any more.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010100.jpg
Hey gorgeous, do you come here often?

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010101.jpg
The Emirates flight arrived just as we started boarding.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010102.jpg
The obligatory knee shot. Sorry about the hairy legs.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010103.jpg
Part of Air Malta's problem...

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010105.jpg
We're ready to go.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010112.jpg
Taxiing to the active runway. Despite the heat we did not taxi to the end of the runway but instead did a 180 turn half way down and took of from there.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010113.jpg

When I was last in Malta in April everything was a lush green. Now with the heat everything has turned brown!
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010116.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010117.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010118.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010119.jpg

Take-off was to the southeast over Birzebbuggia and St. George's Bay.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010120.jpg

After take-off we made a long right hand turn to fly a northerly track to Sicily.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010121.jpg

Once the seat belt sign went off, the crew started preparing the meal service and closed the curtain to Economy Class.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010124.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010125.jpg

For an apero I had Kinnie, Malta's national soft drink.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010126.jpg

Before the meal, hot towels were handed out. Very refreshing.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010129.jpg

We had already reached Sicily by the time the meal service had started.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010128.jpg

Next the table was set before the meal tray was served.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010130.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010132.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010133.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010134.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010135.jpg

The main dish consisted of prawns with grilled zucchini, humus, chicken breast with aubergine kapunata (a Maltese sauce made of aubergines, tomatoes, onions, capers and olive oil), Taboulé, water melon and feta cheese and mixed salad with balsamico.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010137.jpg

There was also a side dish with two different types of cheese.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010138.jpg

And for dessert profiteroles filled with vanilla cream and covered in chocolate sauce, wicked!
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010136.jpg

Throughout the meal there were top ups for drinks. I ended the meal with a cup of coffee.

The rest of the flight was uneventful and surprisingly soon we were already starting our descent to Zurich. We past some interesting cloud formations on our way down.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010140.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010141.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010142.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010143.jpg

How green Switzerland looked, especially compared to Malta.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010144.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010147.jpg

Landing was on runway 14. From there we taxied to gate A74. As we deboarded the crew bid me good bye and a safe onward journey. I thanked them for their service and sincerely wished them all the very best for the time to come. I told them that I was really hoping to still be able to fly Air Malta in the future.

With that I left and made my way to arrivals. Not however, before taking perhaps a final shot of an Air Malta aircraft.

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Malta%20July%202011/P1010148.jpg

It is somewhat difficult to say right now what the future holds for Air Malta. I have really enjoyed the flights I have recently had with them and hope they will be around for many years to come. Until then I hope you have enjoyed this report.

William


Other reports of mine:
Malta To Zurich Air Malta Business Class (by knightsofmalta Jan 30 2011 in Trip Reports)
Zurich-Malta With LH, KM And LX In Y Class (by knightsofmalta Apr 17 2011 in Trip Reports)
Easter Get Away Part I: ZRH-LCY With BA In Y (by knightsofmalta Apr 24 2011 in Trip Reports)
Easter Get Away Part II: MLA-LHR With KM In C (by knightsofmalta Apr 24 2011 in Trip Reports)
Easter Get Away Part III: LHR - BSL With BA In Y (by knightsofmalta Apr 25 2011 in Trip Reports)
A Last Farewell As The Curtain Falls: SAS MD-80 (by knightsofmalta Jun 12 2011 in Trip Reports)
Leaving The Imperial Summer Palace On SAS (by knightsofmalta Jun 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
Swiss Business Class BSL-HAM (by knightsofmalta Mar 29 2011 in Trip Reports)

11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineEL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1348 posts, RR: 13
Reply 1, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 6447 times:

Hey William, nice report. Sorry to hear about the trouble in Air Malta.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The other reasons I wanted to write this report is that currently Air Malta is in very bad shape. De facto the airline in bankrupt and only able to stay operational thanks to a loan by the Maltese Government

Why is that? Greedy employees organizations?

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
On 3 July 2011 Transport Malta launched new bus services by Arriva, who also operate in London. The new service promised to be a vast improvement over those dirty, noisy rickety old buses previously in service. I was rather looking forward to trying out the new Arriva air conditioned bus service to the airport. But alas, this is Malta where things rarely go according to plan. When the service launched on Sunday, 3 July, over 50 drivers decided not to show up at work over their unhappiness with heir rosters. Add to that the fact that a number of the newly acquired Chinese buses caught fire because the air condition was on at full blast all day, I decided it would probably be a better idea to take a taxi instead…

Yep, probably greedy employees organizations. Someone there needs to do them 'a Ronald Reagen', like when he fired those air traffic controllers gone on strike and refused to hire any of them back.

In an Island state like Malta a national airline is something in need, you guys can't relay on Ryanair or Easyjet, those airlines can cut flights to MLA the moment it will stop making profit. Is there an option to privatize the airline?

Thank you for the report, the meal looks like decent JCL meal this time. Hope things turn out OK in KM.

Jonathan



"In Israel, on order to be a realist, one's must believe in miracles" - David Ben Gurion.
User currently offlineSPLTA From Poland, joined Jun 2011, 121 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 6332 times:

Hello knightsofmalta,

Very interesting TR and some nice pictures.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Air Malta has these excellent upgrade offers available at check-in on flights departing from Malta, which allow you to upgrade to Business Class for only EUR99.

From what I've read on various forums (probably also in one of your previous reports) KM is (in) famous for very tight seat-pitch in Economy, so I guess it was a good investment, especially that the meal looks really tasty.

Sorry to hear about KM's troubles. Hopefully it is going to survive and we will enjoy more of your TRs covering the carrier in the future.

Thank you for sharing!

Regards,
SPLTA


User currently offlineknightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 20
Reply 3, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5709 times:

Hi Jonathan,

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 1):
Sorry to hear about the trouble in Air Malta.
Quoting EL-AL (Reply 1):
Why is that? Greedy employees organizations?

Well, I think there are two problems. the first is that the company is still owned by the government. As a result it is always at risk of being used for one party or other's political agenda. Apart from that, the nepotism that goes on in Maltese politics also influences the airline's operation. As a result, Air Malta is severely overstaffed. Perhaps you noticed when you flew with them that Air Malta always has at least 5 cabin crew even on the A319, when in fact the minimum crew complement up to 150 passengers would be only 3.

The second reason is that there is currently a debate going on about whether or not to privatize the company. The government says yes, the opposition says no. Evidently there is a lack of strategy or vision for the airline.

Hi SPLTA,

Quoting SPLTA (Reply 2):
From what I've read on various forums (probably also in one of your previous reports) KM is (in) famous for very tight seat-pitch in Economy, so I guess it was a good investment, especially that the meal looks really tasty.

That's another benefit of flying Business on Air Malta: the pitch on the first few rows is much better than in Economy and gradually decreases towards the back of the aircraft.


User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2487 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 5167 times:

Hi William,

You have made a right decision to write this report. I did not know that Air Malta was in trouble. It would be sad to hear if the wonderful flight attendants you got on your flight get laid off.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
That’s when I say on the screen that the Zurich flight was available for a EUR99 upgrade.

Wow, it does not sound bad.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The obligatory knee shot. Sorry about the hairy legs.

Never mind the hairy legs. But what a tight legroom for Business!

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
For an apero I had Kinnie, Malta's national soft drink.

Good choice!

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
humus
Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Taboulé

I did not know that these were Maltese dishes as well. I would have expected such offering on board of airlines from the Middle East.

Thank you for sharing. It was a pleasure to read.

Best wishes,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1714 posts, RR: 18
Reply 5, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 5154 times:

Hey William, so nice to see another report from you!

Very sad to hear about Air Malta being in such bad economical shape, I really hope they'll get back on their feet soon (If that'll ever be the case)!

Nice though that you could purchase J class upgrades at the airport for €99, a bargain indeed! Did they let you use the lounge with this upgrade ticket?

Food looked great as well, love the "Meze" platter looked really tasty.

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
And for dessert profiteroles filled with vanilla cream and covered in chocolate sauce, wicked!

Ah, so that's the name of that dessert! I had the same on my SAS flight back home from Turkey on the MD-80 last week  

Thanks for sharing!
//Jonas



SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlineknightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 20
Reply 6, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5094 times:

Hi Suryo,

Quoting akhmad (Reply 4):
I did not know that Air Malta was in trouble. It would be sad to hear if the wonderful flight attendants you got on your flight get laid off.

Things may just be looking up slightly. Both the General Workers Union and all of Air Malta's other unions have stated that they too protest with the way the government is handling the situation but that even so, they refuse to join the pilots in the strike because too much hangs in the balance. Of course for the pilots this is bad news. If they go through with the strike, whatever happens to Air Malta next will inevitably be blamed on them. The decision on the strike is expected for Wednesday.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 4):
Never mind the hairy legs. But what a tight legroom for Business!

It get's worse towards the back and admittedly, I was slouching in my seat.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 4):
I did not know that these were Maltese dishes as well. I would have expected such offering on board of airlines from the Middle East.

In a way, Malta has always been a mix between the Orient and Europe, and it shows in the food also.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 4):
Thank you for sharing. It was a pleasure to read.

My pleasure I'm sure, glad you enjoyed it.

Hi Jonas,

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 5):
Nice though that you could purchase J class upgrades at the airport for €99, a bargain indeed! Did they let you use the lounge with this upgrade ticket?

That's what I thought as well, you really can't complain for that price. The only thing you cannot do is collect Business Class miles with this type of upgrade. Apart from that you can use the express lane through security, priority tags on the suitcases and you have lounge access.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 5):
Ah, so that's the name of that dessert! I had the same on my SAS flight back home from Turkey on the MD-80 last week

Yeah I saw that. That's a great report you wrote actually.


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 5013 times:

Nice report, however the J-class product looks more like a Y+ product than a J product.


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5126 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4944 times:

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Background
This report covers the return trip of my summer vacation in Malta in July 2011. Initially I had not intended to write a report on this trip. On the return leg from Malta back to Zurich though, I decided that perhaps I should.

= Terrible decision to write that report  .

Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
As they welcomed be I could not help but wonder how much longer they would still have a job
Quoting knightsofmalta (Thread starter):

The other reasons I wanted to write this report is that currently Air Malta is in very bad shape. De facto the airline in bankrupt and only able to stay operational thanks to a loan by the Maltese Government. With the funds provided with this loan already pretty much exhausted, the Air Malta pilot’s association have now decided to call a strike on 16 July 2011 to protest against the layoffs management announced earlier this summer.

= What's with the negativity  ? I would think for a tourism-oriented country like Malta, keeping KM alive would serve a national interest?

Great report on KM! I actually just returned from Malta and will write a report of my own soon. Wish I knew the EUR 99 offer before. The meal service looked really good btw!

Thanks again for writing ... notwithstanding the hairy legs ... just kidding  .

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineknightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4860 times:

Hi Abrelosojos,

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 8):
Great report on KM! I actually just returned from Malta and will write a report of my own soon. Wish I knew the EUR 99 offer before.


Thanks, glad you liked the report. I wasn't going to bring it up myself actually, but as you mention it, I was starting to wonder what had happened to your trip to Malta...

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 8):
I would think for a tourism-oriented country like Malta, keeping KM alive would serve a national interest?

Well, in a way I think that really is the whole problem in a nutshell. The opposition sees KM as being of strategic interest to the Maltese islands and thus wants to keep the airline under state control. The government on the other hand wants to privatise the company and seems very happy subsidising low cost carriers to open up new routes, rather than granting concession to KM.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 8):
The meal service looked really good btw!

It was quite tasty actually.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 8):
Thanks again for writing ... notwithstanding the hairy legs ... just kidding

That gives me an idea. Perhaps somebody should start a 'hairy legs featured in a trip report' thread.


User currently offlinesultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1771 posts, RR: 30
Reply 10, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 4819 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hello William,

Thank your for providing this nice KM story. It would indeed be sad to see them go. Service looks quite OK, doesn't it? Good for you that you got the update, it seems worth it (at least the meal looks very tasty). We'll see what the future brings but hopefully you did not just find yourself in a KM plane for the last time 



   Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineknightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 20
Reply 11, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 4700 times:

Hi Sultanils,

Quoting sultanils (Reply 10):
Thank your for providing this nice KM story.

My pleasure. Personally I think it would be a pity if KM were to fold. Right now things aren't looking too bright I'm afraid:
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles...y-cause-airline-to-collapse.374992

I'm sure a lot of what's in the report is just tactics to intimidate the pilots' union. But there probably also is some truth in it. Time will tell.


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