Malta International Airport (IATA code: MLA) is the only airport that currently serves Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino, although up until recently, there was a Malta-Gozo helicopter service linking Malta International Airport (MIA) with the heliport in Xewkija, Gozo. This has, however been discontinued and the only other link with the other islands other than by road/ferry is a seaplane service from Grand Harbour, Valletta to Mgarr, Gozo.
This modern Malta airport is situated between Luqa and Gudja, 5 kms southwest of Malta’s capital city Valletta, and the terminal was opened in 1992.
There was an older passenger terminal built in the period 1956-58 and that was in use from 1958 until the new terminal was opened; the old terminal is now used as the base for Air Malta cargo services. Historically, the British military forces based in Malta built several airfields for use during wartime, these were based at Hal Far, Ta’Qali, Safi and Luqa. These were severely bombed during WW2, so a new airport was built at Luqa to cater for the incresing numbers of passengers using airliners from the 1950’s onwards.
Air Malta is the national airline and its base is at the Malta International Airport, flying mainly European routes with a fleet of Airbus aircraft. With Malta being a popular holiday destination, many airlines fly to Malta, with more flights operated in the summer months. The budget carriers easyjet and Ryan Air operate flights on a year-round basis to Manchester, Gatwick, Luton, Dublin and others and new routes are being added in 2010 to Bornemouth, Liverpool, Leeds/Bradford, Rome and Milan. Other European airlines flying routes to Malta include Lufthansa, Alitalia, Vueling, Thomson, Thomas Cook and Jettime. Non-European routes include Dubai via Larnaca with Emirates, Tunis with Sevenair and Tripoli with Libyan Arab Airlines.
Facilities at the airport include a range of land and air side shops, cafes and bars. Landside, there is KFC, Burger King, Fat Harry’s pub, Samsonite, an Agenda newsagent and bookstore, a late-night pharmacy and a viewing gallery with a restaurant. Once passengers have gone through passport control and security, there is a large duty-free shop with a range of spirits, cigarettes and perfumes, a Hard-Rock cafe/bar, jewellery stores and designer outlets. There is also a cafe with a large outdoor terrace.
For passengers arriving in Malta, there is a duty-free shop in the arrivals hall, cash-machines and a bank/exchange bureau. Car hire is available at the Airport, and the bus number 8 runs to Valletta every 20 minutes. Taxis are available to any destination in Malta or Gozo 24 hours a day.