This post is a timely reminder that you can use Avios points on Air Malta flights between the UK (Heathrow/Gatwick/Manchester) and Malta.
This is, of course, in addition to the fact that you can now use Avios on BA flights between London Gatwick and Malta.
Both BA and Air Malta Avios redemptions are 10,000 Avios each way in economy. Air Malta flights will cost you between around £41 and £57 in fees/taxes for this return, while BA flight fees/taxes are capped at £35 return via the Avios “Reward Flight Saver” scheme.
We have previously carried out a fairly detailed “economic analysis” of the value of using Avios on Air Malta flights, and very similar calculations apply to BA flights. If there’s a cheap BA flight available (and they start at £55 each way), then it’s probably a waste of your Avios to splurge 20,000 of them on that flight. Conversely, if you find reward flight availability in the peak season, when flights can be substantially over £250, then it’s a very good use of your Avios.
…there is one fairly staggering fact about the Avios/Air Malta redemption option. Until they were alerted to it recently through an article on this website (and I must similarly doff my cap to the Avios Grand Master, Raffles at Headforpoints, who alerted us to it), Air Malta themselves had absolutely no idea about this arrangement. In fact, they specifically called me to ask me to confirm this actually was the case!
On the basis of the above, I have no idea how this “arrangement” benefits Avios. As things stand (and I may well be wrong here, but there’s no obvious alternative), Avios appear to be offering Air Malta flights for 20,000 Avios (plus taxes/fees) that they have to buy at the standard commercial rate.
I am pretty shocked by this. I fairly reasonably assumed that this redemption option would be based on a negotiated agreement between Avios and Air Malta, whereby Avios got the flights at a particular discounted price. Of course, the restricted availability means that Avios may be limiting it to the cheaper flights, but the fact it is all done entirely outside of any relationship with Air Malta seems, to me at least, commercially nonsensical. Even if they didn’t think they’d get very far with commercial negotiations, at the very least you’d have thought they would have told Air Malta!
Since March 2014, there’s also the added fact that Avios offers another Malta-UK redemption option, via its Group company British Airways, so it’s not like it needs to take a financial hit – by buying flights at standard commercial rates – in order to offer Avios customers Malta-UK flights.