Maltese national carrier Air Malta will launch several new routes connecting the Mediterranean island-state with the UK, Sardinia and Sicily.

From May 4, the carrier will launch a 3X-weekly service to London Southend Airport, a small facility east of the UK capital, as well as a 2X-weekly service to Cagliari, Sardinia and 1X-weeky to Catania, Sicily.

The airline will also launch 2X-weekly services linking London Southend with Cagliari and Catania.

Air Malta CCO Paul Sies noted that Southend offered a direct train connection to London, while the compact terminal allowed a 20-minute check-in. “We believe we will serve a totally new clientele coming from the broader catchment area of London,” he said.

“Today’s announcement is another step forward in the strategy to connect Mediterranean regions with the rest of Europe,” Air Malta chairman Charles Mangion added.

“To operate this ambitious schedule we are leasing in our 10th aircraft for this coming summer season.” The airline operates a fleet of Airbus A320s and A319s.

Air Malta has faced increasing competition from LCCs in recent years and has been through a series of reorganizations to improve its efficiency. It has sustained a series of losses on its core airline business for several years, with the financial year ending March 31 2017 seeing a loss of €13.1 million ($16.1 million), a deterioration from the previous year’s figure of €4.4 million.

Alan Dron