samedi, octobre 21, 2006

Flights of Convenience

In case you missed it, here's my letter to the Times:

It does not take much to notice that the airports served by Air Malta (the public service carrier) leave a gaping hole in the middle of Europe. Just about in the middle of that hole lies the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, host to three of the European institutions and a community of 200 plus Maltese.

Thanks to the archaic electoral laws of our country these 200 plus workers will in all probability not be eligible to vote in the next general election. I am not sure that the latter is an inconvenience but insofar as inconveniences are concerned I would like to share a few statistics with readers.

These relate to the time it takes to get to the airports served by Air Malta (add three hours of flight and approximately three hours of waiting/check-in and airport connections to each) from Luxembourg.

It takes you three hours to get to Brussels Airport, four hours to get to Paris and four hours to get to Frankfurt. On a normal trip to Malta via Brussels one would have to leave Luxembourg train station at two in the afternoon to land in Malta International Airport at 11 p.m. (that's nine hours later).

I am glad to note that it is not my predisposition to be a dissatisfied (non)-voter that leads me to remark that the service lies between the unsatisfactory and the non-existent. A number of letters have already appeared in this newspaper lamenting the lack of direct flights provided by Air Malta. I would venture further.

Should any of the planners at the national airline deem the trip to be non-cost effective (which should not really be a consideration in these days of Public Service Carriage) I would suggest that the government issues a new call for LCCs to serve a Frankfurt-Hahn or Metz-Nancy (both one and a half hours away from Luxembourg) to Malta route.

That way we could all "spread our wings and fly".

and here is one by Peter Xuereb on the same matter:

Given that "in a recent interview, MTA chairman Sam Mifsud said that he did not believe the drop in the number of visitors had anything to do with the Maltese product but rather with the fact that the number of flights to the island had gone down, taking away prospective tourists from large markets such as Germany" (Malta Well Liked By Winter Tourists, October 10), it is most surprising that no mention has yet been made of a Ryanair Malta - Frankfurt (Hahn) connection (Ryanair Wants More Routes, October 5). This route would provide prospective German tourists with a low cost/high volume alternative; the Maltese with access to another low-cost hub in Europe; and would directly cover the Luxembourg area, which is evidently underserved (Stranded In Luxembourg, October 2).

Should competition with Air Malta be a major concern, it should be pointed out that, despite its name, Hahn is situated over 130 km (by road) to the west of the city of Frankfurt - which renders the routes in question significantly different.

I'm loving it.

I.M. Jack will not be appearing today since I have just returned from Metz and will be off to the cinema in a few minutes. It will be posted tomorrow.