Malta International Airport

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Malta International Airport
Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta
Malta International Airport3.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Malta International Airport plc
Serves Valletta
Location Luqa, Malta
Hub for Air Malta
Focus city for Ryanair
Elevation AMSL 300 ft / 91 m
Coordinates 35°51′27″N 014°28′39″E / 35.85750°N 14.47750°E / 35.85750; 14.47750Coordinates: 35°51′27″N 014°28′39″E / 35.85750°N 14.47750°E / 35.85750; 14.47750
MLA is located in Malta
Location on a map of Malta
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 2,377 7,799 Asphalt
13/31 3,544 11,627 Asphalt
Statistics (2016)
Passengers 5,080,071[1]
Aircraft Movements 35,800[1]
Cargo Movements (kg) 15,697,009[1]
Source: Maltese AIP at EUROCONTROL[2]
Statistics from timesofmalta[3]

Malta International Airport (Maltese: Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta, IATA: MLAICAO: LMML) is the only airport in Malta and it serves the whole of the Maltese Islands. It is located on island of Malta, between Luqa and Gudja, and occupies the location of the former RAF Luqa. It was completely refurbished, becoming fully operational on 25 March 1992. It is still referred to by locals as Luqa Airport, and sometimes as Valletta Airport internationally, as it is located 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of the Maltese capital Valletta. The airport serves as the main hub for Air Malta and a base for Ryanair. It is also home to the Area Control Center and hosts the annual Malta Airshow, visited by military and civil aircraft from various countries. The airport is operated by Malta International Airport plc.


Luqa airfield in 1941

The first civil airfield was constructed at Ta' Qali, followed by others at Ħal Far (RAF Hal Far) and Luqa.[when?] During the Second World War, the airfields at Ta' Qali and Hal Far were severely battered and civil operations subsequently centred on Luqa Airport.[citation needed]

The increase in passenger handling and aircraft movements necessitated the construction of a civil air terminal. Preparations started in 1956 and the British Government mainly financed what was then a Lm 300,000 project.[citation needed] Malta's new passenger air terminal at Luqa was inaugurated on 31 March 1958 by the then Governor of Malta Sir Robert Laycock. The air terminal consisted of two floors including some basic facilities such as a restaurant, a post office, a cable and wireless office and a viewing balcony for the public.[citation needed]

In October 1977, a new and longer runway was launched and works commenced on the extension and refurbishment of the air terminal.[citation needed] An arrivals lounge and another lounge dedicated to VIPs were added and the original part of the terminal building was used for departures.

This refurbishment was not enough as it still lacked certain essential facilities. Immediately after the change in Government in 1987, the new administration decided that the 35-year-old terminal was past its time and therefore gave the green light for the construction of a new air terminal along Park 9.[citation needed]

Until the construction of the new air terminal was completed, the Government embarked on a further upgrade of the old air terminal.[when?] The facilities introduced included air conditioning, new baggage carousels, flight information monitors, computerised check-in desks, a new floor surface and new retail outlets including a larger duty-free area.

The foundation stone of the present air terminal in Gudja was laid in September 1989 and it was inaugurated in record time 29 months later, in February 1992. Malta International Airport became fully operational on March 25, 1992, and the old Luqa passenger terminal was effectively closed down after 35 years.[4]

Over the last several years, passenger numbers have been increasing, climbing from 3.5 million in 2011 to 4.6 million in 2015. Passenger figures are forecast to exceed 5.0 million in 2016.[5] The increase in passenger numbers is mainly due to the increased number of routes served by low-cost carriers. Ryanair based one aircraft in Malta from May 2010, increasing to two in May 2012, to three in March 2016 and to four in March 2017.[6]


Arrivals area
Apron view of the main building

Malta International Airport air terminal operations include general passenger services, and the operation of an extensive range of retail services at the airport, airside and landside shops, restaurants and other outlets, which are all operated on concession agreements. The airport also leases office space to airlines and other travel related operators at the airport. Malta International Airport is a member of the ACI-EUROPE (Airports Council International) and a number of company officials sit on specialised committees and working groups within this council.

Further facilities[edit]

Malta International Airport has improved services for disabled and reduced mobility people to ensure an easier transit through the airport terminal to the aircraft and similarly on return.[7]

The head office of Medavia is on the airport property.[8]

Pilot Training[edit]

Within the grounds of Malta International Airport are situated several pilot training academies:

  • European Pilot Academy
  • Sky People Aviation Training Ltd

Military use[edit]

The Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta is based at Malta International Airport. The Air Wing terminal consists of six hangars. The Air Wing operates a total of 8 fixed-wing aircraft and 6 helicopters as well as manning a pair of Italian Air Force helicopters used for search-and-rescue.

Skyparks Business Centre[edit]

Located within the grounds of Malta International Airport, the Business Centre is the first building in Malta to have applied for BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) certification to become the island's first Grade A office park. The head office of Air Malta is at Level 2 of the Skyparks Business Centre.[9]

Malta Airport MetOffice[edit]

The Malta Airport MetOffice[10] is part of the Malta International Airport and provides the function of a national meteorological service for Malta. Although they primarily serve aviation they also service the public sector.[11] All equipment, other than the Doppler Weather Radar, is enhanced by automatic weather stations, of which eight are situated in Malta and Gozo. At the same time an aerodrome weather observation system is located at the airport. The MetOffice is able to get information from the Agencia Estatal de Meteorología in Madrid and the UK's Met Office along with numerical weather models such as those provided by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, England.[12]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Malta:[13]

Airlines Destinations
Aegean Airlines
operated by Olympic Air
Seasonal: Athens
AirBaltic Seasonal: Riga
Air France Seasonal: Toulouse[14]
Air Malta Amsterdam, Brussels, Casablanca (resumes 26 March 2018),[15] Catania, Comiso,[16] Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Lisbon (resumes 25 March 2018),[17] London–Gatwick, London–Heathrow, Málaga (begins 26 March 2018),[17] Milan–Linate, Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Munich, Palermo, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Paris–Orly, Rome–Fiumicino, Saint Petersburg (resumes 28 March 2018),[17] Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion, Venice (resumes 26 March 2018),[17] Vienna, Zürich
Seasonal: Birmingham, Bristol, Lyon, Manchester (resumes 1 May 2018),[18] Marseille, Prague, Tunis
Air Serbia Seasonal: Belgrade
Alitalia Rome–Fiumicino
Atlantic Airways Seasonal: Vágar (begins 19 June 2018)[19]
British Airways London–Gatwick
Condor Seasonal: Hamburg
Czech Airlines Seasonal: Prague
easyJet London–Gatwick, London–Southend, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne
Seasonal: Milan–Malpensa, Naples
easyJet Switzerland Seasonal: Geneva
Emirates Dubai–International, Larnaca
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Iberia Express Seasonal: Madrid Seasonal: Belfast–International (begins 5 April 2018), Birmingham (begins 1 April 2018), East Midlands, Glasgow–International, Leeds/Bradford, London–Stansted (begins 31 March 2018),[20] Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Luxair Seasonal: Luxembourg
Medavia Seasonal: Palermo
Norwegian Air Shuttle Seasonal: Oslo–Gardermoen
Norwegian Air Shuttle
operated by Norwegian Air International
Seasonal: Copenhagen, Madrid
Ryanair Aberdeen (begins 25 March 2018),[21] Athens, Bari, Beauvais (begins 27 March 2018),[21] Belfast–International, Bergamo, Berlin–Schönefeld, Birmingham, Bologna, Bournemouth, Bratislava (begins 25 March 2018),[21] Bristol, Brussels (ends 24 March 2018), Catania, Charleroi (begins 25 March 2018), Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Gdańsk, Girona, Gothenburg (resumes 31 March 2018),[21] Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Kraków, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, London–Luton, London–Stansted, Manchester, Madrid, Marseille, Naples , Nuremberg, Pescara (begins 27 March 2018),[21] Pisa, Porto (begins 26 March 2018),[21] Poznan, Prestwick, Riga, Rome–Ciampino (ends 24 March 2018), Rome–Fiumicino (begins 25 March 2018), Seville (begins 28 March 2018),[21] Stockholm–Skavsta, Tallinn (begins 29 March 2018),[21] Toulouse, Treviso, Turin, Valencia, Vilnius, Wrocław
Seasonal: Billund, Budapest, Weeze
Scandinavian Airlines Stockholm–Arlanda
Seasonal: Copenhagen
Small Planet Airlines Germany Seasonal charter: Basel/Mulhouse (begins 8 July 20108), Berlin–Tegel (begins 30 April 2018), Cologne/Bonn (begins 6 May 2018), Dresden (begins 6 May 2018), Hannover (begins 7 February 2018), Leipzig/Halle (begins 7 February 2018), Stuttgart (begins 7 February 2018)[22]
Swiss International Air Lines Seasonal: Zürich
Thomas Cook Airlines Seasonal: Bristol (begins 5 April 2018),[23] London–Gatwick, Manchester
Transavia Seasonal: Amsterdam
Transavia France Seasonal: Nantes, Paris–Orly
TUI Airways London–Gatwick, Manchester
Seasonal: Birmingham, Bristol
Tunisair Express Tunis
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk
Volotea Seasonal: Bilbao (begins 24 March 2018),[24] Bordeaux, Nice (begins 26 April 2018)[24]
Vueling Barcelona
Wizz Air Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Cluj–Napoca, Katowice, Skopje, Sofia, Vienna (begins 14 June 2018),[25] Warsaw–Chopin


Air Malta Airbus A319 at Malta International Airport
British Airways Airbus A320 taking off from Malta to London-Gatwick
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 at Malta International Airport

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest International Routes out of Malta International Airport (2016)[1]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change (vs 2015)
1 London Gatwick Airport* 345,779 Increase 1.77
2 Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport 316,450 Increase 27.21
3 Frankfurt Airport 270,098 Decrease 4.25
4 Manchester Airport 214,335 Increase 28.75
5 Catania Airport 188,666 Increase 30.15
6 London Heathrow Airport* 188,276 Increase 0.23
7 Munich Airport 148,976 Increase 4.98
8 Istanbul Atatürk Airport 132,647 Increase 12.09
9 Paris Orly Airport** 124,942 Increase 16.29
10 London Luton Airport* 121,018 Increase 4.22
17 London Stansted Airport* 82,399 Increase 21.34
21 Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport** 74,782 Decrease 2.03
* All London Airports 737,472 Increase 3.63
** All Paris Airports 199,724 Increase 8.68

Busiest airlines[edit]

Top 10 Passenger Airlines out of Malta International Airport (2016)[5]
Rank Airline Passengers  % Change (vs 2015)
1 Ryanair 1,731,881 Increase 41.30
2 Air Malta 1,600,408 Decrease 7.47
3 EasyJet 279,266 Decrease 15.75
4 Lufthansa 230,965 Increase 7.21
5 Wizz Air 177,420 Increase 17.33
6 Turkish Airlines 132,521 Increase 11.98
7 Alitalia 111,504 Increase 24.91
8 Emirates 88,329 Decrease 3.45
9 British Airways 80,024 Decrease 0.97
10 Vueling 73,131 Decrease 8.28

Ground transportation[edit]


Malta International Airport is served also by several buses operated by private transportation groups and public transport operated by Malta Public Transport. Malta Public Transport buses serve the airport. A mixture of Express and local services are available.[26]


The airport is located 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of the capital, Valletta.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 5 January 1960, Vickers Viscount G-AMNY of British European Airways was damaged beyond economic repair at Luqa when it departed the runway after landing following a loss of hydraulic pressure.[27]
  • On 25 November 1973, Luqa Airport witnessed the landing of KLM Flight 861. The aircraft, named "Mississippi", was a Boeing 747 hijacked by three young Arabs over Iraqi airspace on a scheduled Amsterdam-Tokyo flight with 247 passengers on board, after the hijackers threatened to blow up the plane when no country would grant landing permission. Most of the passengers and the eight stewardesses were released after negotiations with the Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, who argued with the hijackers that the plane could not possibly take off with both the passengers and the 27,000 gallons of fuel they had demanded, given the (then) short runway. With 11 passengers on board the jumbo jet left Malta to Dubai, where the incident ended without fatalities.[28] The hijack was claimed by the Arab Nationalist Youth Organization.
  • On 23 November 1985, Luqa Airport was the scene of one of the deadliest aircraft hijackings in aviation history.[29] EgyptAir Flight 648 was forced to land in Malta en–route to Libya. Unit 777 of the Egyptian counter-terrorism forces was dispatched to deal with the incident. Storming of the Boeing 737, reluctantly authorised by Maltese officials after five hostages were shot, resulted in the death of over 60 passengers plus several security personnel, aircrew and members of the hijackers, the Abu Nidal Organization.
  • Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted for the Lockerbie bombing on the theory that he loaded a bomb onto Air Malta Flight KM180 Malta-Frankfurt at Luqa Airport which it is alleged found its way via the interline baggage system onto Pan Am Feeder Flight 103A Frankfurt-London and eventually onto Pan Am Flight 103 London -New York.
  • MLA was the origin airport of the Air Malta Flight 830 Malta-Istanbul hijack which ended in Cologne.
  • On 21 February 2011, two Libyan fighter pilots, both claiming to be colonels, defected and landed their Mirage F1 jets at the airport after refusing to carry out orders to fire upon a group of civilian Libyan protesters in Tripoli. On the same day two Eurocopter Super Puma helicopters registered in France also landed carrying seven French nationals who were under Italian contracts to work in Libya.[30][31]
  • On 24 October 2016, a CAE Aviation Fairchild Merlin twin turboprop crashed on take-off a short distance from the runway. All five people on board were killed. The aircraft was taking part in a French-led surveillance operation to counter people smuggling.[32][33]
  • On 23 December 2016 Afriqiyah Airways Flight 209, operated by an Airbus A320, was hijacked while en route from Sabha Airport to Tripoli International Airport in Libya, and diverted to Malta International.
  • On 27 December 2017, a Dassault Falcon 7X (VP-BZE) which belonged to Michael Ashcroft careened off the apron while parked at the Malta International Airport, and it smashed into a fence and a road before crashing into an office building. The incident is believed to have occurred after the plane's wheel chocks were blown away due to strong winds. No injuries were reported but the plane suffered extensive damage.[34][35]


  • In 2010 Malta International Airport was awarded the title of "Most Noteworthy Airport for a New Small Budget Programme"[clarification needed] by Passenger Terminal World, the international review of airport design, technology, security, operations and management. The airport is classified among the top 15 airports worldwide, joining Dubai, Brussels, San Francisco, Stockholm, Heathrow, Changi, Barcelona and Vienna, which were also awarded.[36]
  • The Passenger Terminal World Annual 2010 said "When a new terminal can cost US$1.5 billion it is hard to think that many wonderful airports are being developed for a fraction of that sum, but Malta Airport is one such. With its current development programme it is a small airport with big plans – improving the commercial offer, enlarging security and other essential services, and gaining plaudits from the country's population."[36]
  • The company has picked up an international award for service quality: Best Airport in its category (1-5 million passengers) at the ACI Europe Awards and the Best Airport in Europe across all categories in the ACI Airport Service Quality (ASQ Survey).[when?][37][38]
  • In addition it also won Best Airport in its category (1-5 million passengers) at the ACI Europe Awards and the Best Airport in Europe across all categories in the ACI Airport Service Quality (ASQ Survey).[37][38][39]


  1. ^ a b c d "Annual Statistical Summary 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-23. Retrieved 2015-05-10. 
  3. ^ "Tunisia tourists diverted to Malta – MIA registers record". Times of Malta. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-01. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Corporate - Malta International Airport" (PDF). Retrieved 21 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "We're now almost Malta's national airline – Ryanair". Retrieved 21 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  8. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2012-07-29 at the Wayback Machine.." Medavia. Retrieved on April 23, 2013. "P.O. Box 48, Malta International Airport Luqa LQA 4000"
  9. ^ "Contact Us." Air Malta. Retrieved on 23 April 2013. "Air Malta plc Level 2, Skyparks Business Centre Malta International Airport Luqa, Malta. LQA 9020"
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  13. ^ - Flight Timetable retrieved 1 November 2016
  14. ^ 2017, UBM (UK) Ltd. "Air France resumes multiple short-haul routes in S17". Retrieved 21 February 2017. 
  15. ^ airmalta resumes Casablanca service from March 2018 Routesonline. 29 November 2017.
  16. ^ airmalta adds Comiso service in W17 Routesonline. 17 October 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d airmalta schedules new routes in S18 Routesonline. 13 October 2017.
  18. ^ airmalta resumes Manchester service from May 2018 Routesonline. 24 August 2017.
  19. ^ Atlantic Airways adds Malta seasonal flights in S18 Routesonline. 12 October 2017.
  20. ^ S18 new routes as of 05DEC17 Routesonline. 6 December 2017.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Ryanair expands Malta service in S18 Routesonline. 14 September 2017.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b Volotea S18 new routes as of 28NOV17 Routesonline. 29 November 2017.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2011-06-03. 
  27. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  28. ^ "Dutch KLM Boeing 747". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  29. ^ "1985: Commandoes storm hijacked plane". BBC. 24 November 1985. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  30. ^ "Two Libyan fighter pilots defect, fly to Malta". Reuters. 21 February 2011. 
  31. ^ "Libyan plane carried pilots to fly Mirages back – PM". Times of Malta. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  32. ^ "French citizens killed in surveillance plane crash on Malta". BBC News. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  33. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (24 October 2016). "Malta plane crash latest: French customs officials killed during take-off for people smuggling mission in Libya". The Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  34. ^ Vella, Matthew (27 December 2017). "Private jet of Tory peer Lord Ashcroft 'taxies' off Malta runway into Polidano offices". Malta Today. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. 
  35. ^ Grech, Herman (27 December 2017). "Aircraft blown off apron, smashes into building". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. 
  36. ^ a b "MIA listed among top 15 airports". Times of Malta. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  37. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  38. ^ a b "ASQ Awards". Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  39. ^ "ASQ Award for Best Airport in Europe" Airports Council International. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-13

External links[edit]

Media related to Malta International Airport at Wikimedia Commons