Bookings with Air Malta’s replacement start over the phone with no website

Passengers trying to book flights with Malta’s new national airline, which is set to replace Air Malta in April, can only do so via the phone or third-party agents, despite assurances a website would be up and running by the start of December.

Bookings were supposed to be open from 1 December, and while they are now being taken as of today, the airline still lacks an official name, lacks a website and has a very limited online presence.

Currently, bookings are being taken under the name of the parent company KM Malta Airlines, while The Shift found that on third-party agent sites such as Kiwi and eDreams, it is using the Air Malta name.

Those booking via phone faced long queues and were referred to social media posts when enquiring about schedules and prices.

First missed milestone

The Shift revealed government plans for Air Malta’s closure last year. After months of denials, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana and Prime Minister Robert Abela finally confirmed its closure in October and announced the formation of a new national airline.

On Friday, 1 December, the new national airline missed its first milestone as customers could not book travel tickets despite government assurances that they would be able to do so.

Just hours after The Shift’s report, KM Malta Airlines issued a statement shifting the start date to Monday, 4 December.

On Sunday, KM Malta Airlines issued another press release noting that bookings would not be available from an official website and customers would have to make bookings over the phone, through third-party agents, or in person at a booth at Malta International Airport.

The press release claimed a website for the new national airline would be available for bookings starting 11 December. In the interim, customers were directed to enquire about schedules and programmes via KM Malta Airlines’s social media pages.

Apart from bookings in-person or over the phone, KM Malta Airlines said customers could make bookings through third-party agencies and services.

Air Malta or not?

A search by The Shift on online booking services found that KM Malta Airlines uses the Air Malta brand name, which it does not own or have any rights to.

Additionally, KM Malta Airlines flights from April are using the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) code for Air Malta – ‘KM’, despite the two companies officially being completely separate.

Both the IATA code and the Air Malta branding require rights and permissions for their usage. It is understood KM Malta Airlines does not currently have such rights.

KM Malta Airlines is using Air Malta’s branding and flight codes with third-party agents, despite supposed economic discontinuity between the two companies – Photo: Kiwi.com

On Monday, Air Malta announced that it had officially cancelled all flights from 31 March onwards through a press release issued by KM Malta Airlines, further muddying the waters between the two supposedly economically discontinuous airlines.

The opening of the new airline’s booking system was to follow an “expedited” process whereby Air Malta’s name and branding would be acquired through a competitive tendering process.

The status of such a process, including whether it has even been initiated, is unknown.

The Air Malta name and branding would be purchased or leased by the new airline after it was sold off to a government company in 2018 as part of a creative accounting exercise by former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi.

The Shift has reported how the European Commission opposed the new airline’s retention of the branding as the old airline’s assets were prohibited from being directly transferred to avoid breaching state aid rules and maintain economic discontinuity.

Sources in Brussels recently told The Shift they fear the Maltese government intends to create a second version of Air Malta, which would violate agreements with the Commission.

“We are following all these developments and noticing that little is being done, at least so far, to demonstrate that the problems leading to Air Malta’s bankruptcy are not being repeated. This is not looking good; we are giving the benefit of the doubt,” EU sources said.

                           

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Fred the Red
Fred the Red
2 months ago

Dear European Commission, with Labour in Malta, you do not give the benefit of the doubt. On the contrary, you assume a priori that you are being deceived. You are dealing with villains and crooks protected by an organised mafia in the guise of a government, in case you are too myopic to have realised by now.

Mick
Mick
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred the Red

Might be best if you do the above in Upper Case and in Bold.

Breitling lill-Ministru
Breitling lill-Ministru
2 months ago

The domain KMmaltaairlines.com is currently for sale for $14000

Mick
Mick
2 months ago

You can see where this is going , you don’t need to ask, poor Malta.

Judy
Judy
2 months ago

Any other monkey business?

Joseph Amodio
Joseph Amodio
2 months ago

KM – is it refers to Konrad Mizzi ????

Anthony
Anthony
2 months ago

The European Commission obviously must be aware that a miniscule airline serving a biggish rock is not financially viable. Even more so when the shareholder happens to be a government that is corrupt up to its eyebrows.
The whole exercise is nothing more than a charade.

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