La Valette / MIA

Malta International Airport plc (MIA) experienced a 57.1 per cent rise in VIP and lounge guests in 2023, as travellers seem to be more willing to spend more for personal or business-related trips.

This figure was highlighted in MIA’s Annual Report for 2023, published last week. In the report, the airport stated that it closed the year with a record 7.8 million passenger movements, a rise of 33.4 per cent over 2022. This is relatively unsurprising considering Malta’s tourism and hospitality industries have benefitted from pent-up demand following the COVID-19 pandemic, with travellers seeking to make up for lost trips.

This was also evident through MIA’s results, as at group level, its total revenue amounted to €120.2 million, 36.6 per cent more than in 2022. This led to pre-tax profit to go up to €62.2 million for the reporting period.

On the whole, travel has been booming across most parts of the world since the pandemic, with studies indicating that 1.08 billion trips were made by EU residents in 2022. From Malta’s perspective, business travel, although at a slower pace, has experienced a resurgence. This comes despite changes in the country’s air connectivity and shifts towards remote and hybrid workplace arrangements.

While the post-pandemic period has been good for travel in general, it has been particularly profitable for more high-class and private travelling services.

Following the pandemic, more travellers have become conscious of their health, wanting to ensure that they are travelling safely. As a result, many have opted to spend more in return for the increased level of comfort, privacy, and separation from others that VIP services and business class travel offer. According to international reports, younger and more affluent individuals have been most active in the post-pandemic recovery for the travel industry, prompting increased demand for such services.

As seen by MIA’s results for VIP and lounge guests, this seems to also be the case in Malta.

In fact, the sharp rise in lounge guests also prompted the costs for VIP and lounge services to go up during 2023, as MIA battled to accommodate the rising demand for these services.

Speaking to MaltaCEOs.mt, a spokesperson for MIA confirmed that the demand for VIP services has “increased sharply” in the post-pandemic recovery period, with travelling guests seeking “extra space and separation from fellow travellers, a phenomenon that is also being observed in the wider aviation industry.”

In a bid to tackle this issue, as part of its €250 million six-year investment programme, MIA had identified upgrades to its VIP product as one of the key areas to invest in. The La Valette lounge at departures is set to be extended to better accommodate the increasing number of guests, while the VIP Terminal will also be undergoing an overhaul, with guests travelling through a separate building to allow for “added privacy and convenience.”

The spokesperson said that investment in the VIP Terminal overhaul will come at a total cost of over €4 million, as the airport seeks to “overcome the resulting capacity constraints while continuing to provide a standout experience.” The investment will see the introduction of a new floor with additional lounges and amenities aimed at catering to the increase in demand.

Additionally, the extension of the La Valette departures lounge terrace is targeted for completion in 2024, the spokesperson confirmed. This project comes in light of increasing stays at the lounge, which “remains the main contributor to VIP product revenues.”

The full airport campus investment programme is set to be completed in 2028, as the MIA aims to deliver a number of other key upgrades to operate in a more efficient and safer manner, even as it handles record passenger numbers and works towards reaching environmental targets.

Featured Image:

La Valette Club / MIA

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