The weather here in Malta has been lovely all week, with cloudless blue skies and a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius during the day.
But it’s time to head back to Switzerland and the cold.
Getting to the Airport
I check out of The Phoenicia Hotel in Floriana at noon. The next bus to the airport will be the 12:35 X4, which leaves from the B pier of the main terminus. The B and C piers are located in St. James’ ditch, below what used to be Duke of York Avenue.
The X4 bus has a luggage rack, which is really convenient, because the bus continues all the way to Birzebbuga in the south and therefore tends to get very full.
Despite the fairly reliable public transport service, traffic in Malta continues to get worse. The journey to the airport takes 35 minutes to cover a distance of 7 kilometres.
As such, by the time I arrive at the airport, it’s already 13:15 and the flight will start boarding at 13:55.
The check-in area is quite busy, with the Lufthansa, Emirates and Qatar Airways flights leaving around the same time as the flight to Zürich.
Security is well organised and quick. But the airside lounge is definitely getting too small for the amount of traffic the airport handles. It feels cramped and crowded.
Boarding for the flight starts just after 14h. There is a separate lane for Business Class passengers.
More importantly though, we’ll be boarding via stairs and without a bus. So loads of opportunities for me to geek-out about an aeroplane. I can just see my friend, the wiry R. doing an exaggerated eye roll…
There are two rows of Business Class for a total of eight passengers. However, there are only two other passengers with me in the forward cabin today.
There’s something charmingly old-fashioned and typically Maltese about the cabin of this aircraft – from the pictures of Malta on the bulkheads, to the nicely padded seats that will all be a thing of the past with the change over to the NEO.
Service on the ground consists of the distribution of newspapers and a welcome drink.
It’s a lovely, warm day with good visibility. We take off towards the northwest and fly the full length of Malta, before making a right turn to point us in the direction of Palermo.
Once the crew is released, the service starts with the distribution of the unscented hot towels. This is followed immediately by the meal service.
Everything is served on one tray.
The main course is a caesar salad of sorts with three slices of chicken breast.
This is served with warm bread and a small bottle of olive oil with balsamico.
For dessert there is chocolate mousse and fruit salad.
The meal is nice enough. And especially the mousse is very rich and creamy!
To drink I have a Kinnie, of course.
The meal concludes with a cup of coffee.
The flight time today is two hours and twenty minutes, which is quite long for this route. But at least the views are great and the Alps look spectacular.
Eventually we land in Zürich at 16:54. By 17:09 I’m already on the train on my way home.
Things are rapidly changing for Air Malta. Already today they are no longer the largest carrier to the island of Malta and take second place behind Ryanair.
But at least, with the minister of transport and tourism resigning this week over claims of corruption, there is hope the government will stop its constant meddling and interference in how Air Malta should be run.
One way or another though, if Air Malta wants to stay competitive, it seems to me they still have a way to go, particularly when it comes to their website and reliably making a purchase for ancillary services via airmalta.com.