Malta International Airport

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 Gudja, and occupies the location of the former RAF Luqa. The airport has a single passenger terminal which became fully operational on 25 March 1992. This replaced the old Luqa terminal which is currently mostly used for cargo. The airport hosts several maintenance facilities including those operated by Lufthansa Technik and SR Technics. The airport serves as the main hub for Air Malta and Medavia besides being a base for Ryanair. It is also home to the Area Control Center and hosted the annual Malta Airshow until 2017. The airport is operated by Malta International Airport plc.

Malta International Airport

Ajruport Internazzjonali ta' Malta
Malta International Airport3.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerMalta International Airport plc
LocationGudja, Malta
Hub forAir Malta
Focus city forRyanair
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 7,800 Asphalt
13/31 3,544 11,627 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
Aircraft Movements42,987[1]
Cargo & Mail (tonnes)16,177[1]
Source: Maltese AIP at EUROCONTROL[2]
Statistics from timesofmalta[3]


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 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.

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]

Over the last several years, passenger numbers have been increasing, climbing 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]


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 offers one VIP lounge, the La Valette Club.[8]

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 facilitiesEdit

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.[9]

The head office of Medavia is on the airport property.[10]

Pilot TrainingEdit

Pilot training academies include:

  • European Pilot Academy
  • Professional Aviation Training Academy (Malta School of Flying)

Military useEdit

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 CentreEdit

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.[11]

Malta Airport MetOfficeEdit

The Malta Airport MetOffice[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

Airlines and destinationsEdit

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Malta:[15]

Aegean Airlines Seasonal: Athens
airBaltic Seasonal: Riga
Air Malta Amsterdam, Berlin–Tegel,[16] Brussels, Cairo,[17] Casablanca, Catania, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Kiev–Boryspil, Lisbon, London–Gatwick, London–Heathrow, Lyon, Milan–Linate, Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Munich, Palermo, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Paris–Orly, Prague, Rome–Fiumicino, St. Petersburg, Stuttgart (begins 1 April 2020), Tel Aviv, Tunis, Vienna, Zürich
Seasonal: Birmingham, Bristol, Cagliari, Geneva, Lourdes/Tarbes, Manchester, Málaga, Marseille, Naples,[18] Venice, Warsaw–Chopin
Air Serbia Seasonal: Belgrade
Alitalia Rome–Fiumicino
Atlantic Airways Seasonal: Vágar[19]
British Airways London–Gatwick
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
Eurowings Stuttgart (begins 3 April 2020)[20]
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Iberia Express Seasonal: Madrid London–Stansted, Manchester
Seasonal: Belfast–International, Birmingham, East Midlands, Glasgow–International, Leeds/Bradford, Newcastle upon Tyne
Lauda Vienna (begins 30 March 2020)
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Luxair Seasonal: Luxembourg
Norwegian Air Shuttle Seasonal: Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen
Qatar Airways Doha[21]
Ryanair Amman–Queen Alia, Athens, Barcelona, Bari, Beauvais, Bergamo, Berlin–Schönefeld, Billund, Birmingham, Bologna, Bournemouth, Bratislava, Brindisi (begins 30 March 2020), Bristol, Budapest, Cardiff, Catania, Charleroi, Cologne/Bonn, Cork, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Exeter, Gdańsk, Kraków, Lamezia Terme, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, London–Luton, London–Stansted, Luxembourg, Maastricht,[22] Manchester, Madrid, Marseille, Nantes,[23] Naples, Niš, Nuremberg, Paphos, Perugia,[23] Pescara, Pisa, Porto, Poznan, Riga, Rome–Fiumicino, Sandefjord,[23] Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Stockholm–Skavsta, Tallinn, Thessaloniki,[23] Toulouse, Trapani (begins 29 March 2020), Treviso, Trieste, Turin, Valencia, Vilnius, Wrocław
Seasonal: Belfast–International, Gothenburg, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden
Scandinavian Airlines Stockholm–Arlanda
Seasonal: Copenhagen
Swiss International Air Lines Seasonal: Zürich
Transavia Seasonal: Amsterdam
Transavia France Seasonal: Nantes, Paris–Orly
TUI Airways Manchester
Seasonal: Birmingham, Bristol, London–Gatwick
TUI fly Deutschland Seasonal: Cologne/Bonn, Munich (begins 1 May 2020)[24]
Tunisair Express Tunis
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
Volotea Seasonal: Bilbao, Bordeaux, Genoa,[25] Nice, Verona[26]
Vueling Barcelona
Wizz Air Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Cluj-Napoca, Debrecen, Katowice, Skopje, Sofia, Warsaw–Chopin
Seasonal: Vienna


Busiest routesEdit

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

Busiest airlinesEdit

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

Ground transportationEdit


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.[27]


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

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • 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.[28]
  • 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.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31][32]
  • 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.[33][34]
  • 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.[35][36]


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  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2015-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2015-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ - Flight Timetable retrieved 1 November 2016
  16. ^ "airmalta resumes Berlin service in W18".
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  19. ^ Atlantic Airways adds Malta seasonal flights in S18 Routesonline. 12 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Eurowings S20 Short-Haul network additions as of 18OCT19".
  21. ^ Drum, Bruce (10 December 2018). "Qatar Airways to launch flights to Malta, starts service to Mombasa".
  22. ^ Vernooij, Niek (11 September 2018). "Ryanair start nieuwe route van Maastricht naar Malta".
  23. ^ a b c d "Ryanair Launches Record Malta Summer 19 Schedule - Ryanair's Corporate Website".
  24. ^ Liu, Jim. "TUIfly S20 network additions as of 31OCT19". Routesonline. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  25. ^ Ltd. 2018, UBM (UK). "Volotea adds new routes from Cagliari / Genoa in S19".
  26. ^ "With Volotea you fly from Verona to Malta and Zante". Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2011-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
  29. ^ "Dutch KLM Boeing 747". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  30. ^ "1985: Commandoes storm hijacked plane". BBC. 24 November 1985. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
  31. ^ "Two Libyan fighter pilots defect, fly to Malta". Reuters. 21 February 2011.
  32. ^ "Libyan plane carried pilots to fly Mirages back – PM". Times of Malta. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  33. ^ "French citizens killed in surveillance plane crash on Malta". BBC News. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Grech, Herman (27 December 2017). "Aircraft blown off apron, smashes into building". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017.

External linksEdit