Lufthansa strikes deal with large cruise firm for Malta-Newark route
Malta could see an influx of North American tourists this summer if planned Lufthansa charter flights between New York and Malta are successful.
The flights are planned in conjunction with a large cruise company understood to be Viking Cruises.
The deal is still awaiting confirmation, Lufthansa spokesperson Boris Ogursky said.
Tickets will not be for sale to the public via the airline but reserved for the cruise company’s clientele.
Chartered flights are different to scheduled flights, in that Lufthansa would simply be flying the planes on behalf of the operator who would determine the route and take responsibility for bookings.
If the series of flights gets the green light, they will be operating between Newark airport, New Jersey and Malta, running irregularly between July and October, according to flight tracker Flightview.
Over the weekend, people took to social media to express their surprise at the planned route, which one tweet interpreted as being set to replace the Newark-Munich one.
“What the heck would @LufthansaUSA pull down 2x weekly on Newark–Munich to fly Newark–Malta instead this summer? This is one weird route. Mistake? Cargo?” Brett Snyder tweeted.
Lufthansa were unable to disclose information about the cruise line company behind the deal, except that it operates trips within the Mediterranean region.
A look at the schedule for Viking cruises out of Malta this summer, shows the dates line up exactly with Lufthansa’s scheduled flights to & from Malta. Both the Viking Sea and Viking Venus will be based out of Malta this summer, and these ships each have the capacity for 930 passengers.
Viking’s single biggest customer base is Americans, so these charter flights are intended to make it easy to get to & from Malta. With 293 seats on each plane, nearly a third of passengers on each ship would be able to take these flights.
In the past having to connect to get to Malta wouldn’t have been that complicated, but right now transit restrictions at major European airports are complex (in terms of issues such as eligibility and testing), so a nonstop flight from the USA to Malta is more valuable than ever before.
Unfortunately these flights won’t be open to the general public, so anyone else looking to travel to Malta will have to find different arrangements
A Tourism Ministry spokesperson confirmed that plans were in the pipeline for flights connecting New York to the island but had not replied to any other questions by the time of writing.
Direct flights from Malta to New York were offered for the first time in 1995 by Air Malta and Balkan Bulgarian Airlines, which ended the service two years later.
During the summer of 2000, Air Malta once again opened flights to New York, using American Trans Air aircraft.