Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
KM Malta Airlines is already fielding complaints from unhappy customers just days since launching and before its website, which is not yet functional, is set to launch on Monday.
The airline, set to replace Air Malta as of 1 April 2024, prohibits the option for carry-on luggage in its base fares, forcing customers to upgrade to get the option.
Customers will only be able to carry their small, 10kg luggage into the cabin if they pay for a business class upgrade or purchase a larger 20kg suitcase.
The policy contradicts Prime Minister Robert Abela’s claims that the new airline would offer comfort and service “better than Air Malta” and would not operate as a low-cost airline.
Additionally, customers looking to book flights with KM Malta Airlines since its delayed launch on 4 December have had to do so through third-party agents, in person, or over the phone, with no option for online bookings.
A press release on 3 December claimed online bookings would be available through a website the following week, from Monday 11 December. KM Malta Airlines called the move a “two-phase” launch.
The new airline’s luggage system prohibits customers from taking small 10kg luggage into the cabin unless they fly business class, forcing customers to upgrade or check their luggage into the aircraft’s hold.
KM Malta Airlines customer support agents contacted by The Shift confirmed no 10kg carry-on option is available in economy class. Notably, no option for Maltese-speaking agents was available at the time of calling.
The agents recommended customers either resort to a 2kg cabin bag, upgrade to a 20kg luggage or fly business class for the option.
The system drew complaints from customers online, who vented their frustration at the lack of an option for a 10kg cabin bag, considered standard on other airlines, with one person calling it “a non-starter.”
“[The suitcase] needs to go in the hold, so if you’re rushing to connect to another flight and the KM flight is delayed, then you’re ruined!” another prospective customer commented.
The launch delays, absence of a website and impractical luggage options directly contrast claims made by Prime Minister Robert Abela upon the launch of the new airline.
Replying to questions by The Shift during a press event for the new airline’s launch in October, Abela claimed it would not operate as a low-cost airline to ensure its promised profitability. Additionally, he said the services and options offered by the new airline would “be better than those offered by Air Malta currently.”
Prospective customers reacting to the new airline’s launch last week also expressed confusion at its choice of name. The airline is currently still using its parent company’s name, KM Malta Airlines, despite government promises that it will retain the Air Malta name.
Upon the new airline’s launch in October Abela and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana claimed KM Malta Airlines would win the name in a tendering process for its use.
The Air Malta name and branding would be purchased or leased by the new airline after it was sold 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.