Malta International Airport

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Malta International Airport

Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta
Luqa. Ajruport 3.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerMalta International Airport plc
LocationLuqa, Malta
Hub forAir Malta
Focus city forRyanair (Malta Air)
Elevation AMSL300 ft / 91 m
Coordinates35°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/concrete
13/31 3,544 11,627 Asphalt/concrete
Statistics (2020 [1])
Passenger change 19-20Decrease 76.09%
Aircraft movements18,982
Movements change 19-20Decrease 63.43%
Cargo & mail (tonnes)17,086
Cargo & mail change 19-20Decrease 7.63%
  • RWY source: ARINC eff. 2020-01-30[2]

Malta International Airport (Maltese: Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta, IATA: MLA, ICAO: LMML) is the only airport in Malta and it serves the whole of the Maltese Islands.

It is located on island of Malta, southwest of the Maltese capital Valletta in the town of Luqa, and occupies the location of the former RAF Luqa. The airport serves as the main hub for Air Malta and Medavia besides being a base for Ryanair and its subsidiary Malta Air. It is also home to the Area Control Center and hosts the annual Malta Airshow. The airport is operated by Malta International Airport plc.


Early years[edit]

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.[3]

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 £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.[3] 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 a change in government in 1987, the new administration decided that the 35-year-old terminal was past its time (Luqa Terminal) and therefore gave the green light for the construction of a new air terminal along Park 9 (now located in Gudja).[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.

Development since the 1990s[edit]

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 25 March 1992 and the old Luqa passenger terminal was effectively closed down after 35 years.[4]

Its passenger numbers have increased from 3.5 million in 2011 to 6.0 million in 2017.[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, three in March 2016, four in March 2017, five in March 2018 and further to six in April 2019.[6] The largest aircraft visiting Malta International Airport regularly is the daily Emirates Boeing 777-300. The airport has received occasional visits by the Airbus A380, usually for repainting at one of the local maintenance facilities.[7]


Belgian C-130H and Royal Navy Merlin HM.2 at the 2015 Malta International Airshow. The airport has hosted the event since the 1990s.


The airport has a single passenger terminal which became fully operational on 25 March 1992. This replaced the old Luqa terminal which is by 2020 mostly used for cargo. 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 offers one VIP lounge, the La Valette Club.[8] The airport also hosts several maintenance facilities including those operated by Lufthansa Technik and SR Technics.

Other facilities[edit]

The head office of Medavia is on the airport property.[9]

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) 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.[10]

The Malta Airport MetOffice[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Military usage[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 eight fixed-wing aircraft and six helicopters.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Malta:[14]

Aegean Airlines[15] Athens
AeroItalia Forlì[16]
Air France Seasonal: Paris–Charles de Gaulle[17]
Air Malta[18] Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Catania, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London–Gatwick,[19] London–Heathrow, Lyon, Madrid,[20] Milan–Linate, Munich, Palermo, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Paris–Orly, Prague, Rome–Fiumicino, Vienna, Zürich
Seasonal: Geneva
airBaltic Seasonal: Riga[21]
British Airways[22] London–Gatwick[23]
easyJet[24] London–Gatwick, Manchester
Seasonal: Geneva, Milan–Malpensa, Naples
Emirates Dubai–International, Larnaca[25]
Iberia[26] Seasonal: Madrid
Israir Airlines Tel Aviv[27]
ITA Airways Rome–Fiumicino[28][29] Manchester
Seasonal: Birmingham, Bristol,[29] East Midlands,[29] Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, London–Stansted, Newcastle upon Tyne
LOT Polish Airlines[30] Seasonal: Warsaw–Chopin[31]
Lufthansa[32] Frankfurt, Munich
Seasonal charter: Newark[33]
Luxair[34] Seasonal: Luxembourg
Medavia[35] Charter: Tripoli-Mitiga
Norwegian Air Shuttle[36] Seasonal: Copenhagen, Oslo
Ryanair[37] Athens, Barcelona, Bari, Beauvais, Bergamo, Birmingham, Bologna, Bordeaux,[37] Bournemouth ,[38] Bratislava, Brindisi, Bucharest,[39] Budapest, Cagliari,[40] Catania, Charleroi, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Gdańsk, Genoa,[40] Kraków, Lamezia Terme, Lisbon (resumes 2 November 2022),[41] Liverpool (begins 30 October 2022),[41] London–Luton, London–Stansted, Lourdes, Luxembourg, Madrid, Manchester, Marseille, Milan–Malpensa, Nantes, Naples, Niš, Paphos, Parma, Perugia, Pescara, Pisa, Porto, Poznan, Seville, Sofia, Stockholm–Arlanda (begins 1 November 2022),[42] Tallinn, Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki, Toulouse, Trapani, Treviso, Trieste, Turin, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw–Modlin, Wrocław, Zagreb[43]
Seasonal: Chania, Rome–Ciampino, Shannon,[37] Valencia
SkyUp Seasonal: Kyiv–Boryspil (suspended)[44]
Swiss International Air Lines[45] Seasonal: Zürich
Transavia[46] Seasonal: Nantes, Paris–Orly
Tunisair Express[47] Tunis
Turkish Airlines[48] Istanbul
Volotea[49] Seasonal: Bordeaux, Verona
Vueling[50] Barcelona, Paris–Orly[51]
Seasonal: Bilbao[52]
Wizz Air[53] Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Skopje, Sofia, Warsaw–Chopin
Seasonal: Cluj-Napoca,[54] Katowice, Vienna


Luqa airfield in 1941
Arrivals area
Apron view of the main building
EgyptAir Boeing 707 at Malta International Airport in 1985

Annual passenger traffic at MLA airport. See source Wikidata query.

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest international routes out of Malta International Airport (2017)[55]
Rank Airport Passengers handled Airlines % Change (vs 2016)
1 London Gatwick Airport 379,000 British Airways, EasyJet, TUI Airways Increase 9.7
2 Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport 313,000 Air Malta, Alitalia, Ryanair Decrease 1.0
3 Frankfurt Airport 300,000 Air Malta, Lufthansa Increase 11.0
4 Catania Airport 289,000 Air Malta, Ryanair Increase 53.4
5 Brussels Airport 240,000 Air Malta, Ryanair Increase 109.6
6 Munich Airport 215,000 Air Malta, Lufthansa, Niki Increase 44.0
7 Manchester Airport 215,000 Air Malta, EasyJet,, Ryanair, TUI Airways Increase 0.1
8 London Heathrow Airport 193,000 Air Malta Increase 2.5
9 Istanbul Atatürk Airport 150,000 Turkish Airlines Increase 12.8
10 Paris Orly Airport 126,000 Air Malta, Transavia France Increase 0.9

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.[56]


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.[57]
  • 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.[58] 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 before the September 11 attacks.[59] 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 and aircrew as well as the hijackers, members of 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.[60][61]
  • 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.[62][63]
  • 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.


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External links[edit]

Media related to Malta International Airport at Wikimedia Commons