Air Malta is a tiny operator with 10 aircraft that had experienced two decades of annual losses. It was €10.8m in the red (£9.6m, $12.1m) in the financial year to March 2017.
“We said, this is our last chance,” explains Alan Talbot, the airline’s chief information officer.
Malta, a 17-mile long island between Sicily and North Africa with 450,000 people, relies heavily on its five million annual tourists.
But Air Malta had trouble competing with the big airlines who also shuttle tourists to Malta’s beaches and baroque buildings.
It has to supplement its income doing odd jobs for the small country, including air ambulance and postal services.
“We were in a position where there could possibly be no more Air Malta,” says Mr Talbot.
He calls the four-decade-old company’s battle to find a niche against Air France, Lufthansa, and Gulf Air “a David and Goliath story” of the air.
But the next year, the state-owned airline turned a profit of €1.2m – its first in 18 years. The number of passengers soared to two million, a rise of 11%.
And this reversal of fortune was down – in part – to clever use of technology, the company says.
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Two-and-a-half years ago, Air Malta decided to redesign its computer systems around web-based APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) – publicly available ways one company can make its data available for others to use.
By working with other businesses and sharing data, you make it easier for them to sell what you offer as part of their own offerings.
This kind of collaboration isn’t new to the industry – airlines started widespread codeshares in the 1990s, when large alliances like Oneworld and Star Alliance formed.
But back then, making back-end servers talk to each other was an expensive and cumbersome business.
With APIs, this process has become fast and painless.
Ryanair, for example, started listing Air Malta flights on its website and the tech integration process took just 11 weeks
“We started getting connectivity requests from third parties who never considered us as an option,” Mr Talbot says.
“Now, instead of us chasing them, we are in the flattering position they are asking us to connect.”
API interfaces also let Air Malta connect more easily to cloud-based software handling different parts of airline operations, like flight operations, reservations, and customer management, the company says.
EJMIRAL Aviation systems are fully equipped with secured and encrypted solutions as part of API interfaces to support growing number of passengers and turns loss into profit.
Courtesy: BBC NEW