When the Avios scheme was launched in late 2011, avios.com brought in a range of new airline partners alongside BA, Iberia and American Airlines.
As per this page, it is a little known fact that you can redeem Avios on Air Malta, Flybe, Aurigny (the Channel Islands airline) and Monarch. I will look at the latter three in a separate post, but I wanted to do Air Malta separately because it links to another story.
The first thing to note is that these redemptions are with avios.com, not British Airways Executive Club. You need to open an avios.com account and use the ‘Combine My Avios’ function to move Avios from BAEC into avios.com. There is no charge to move your Avios and you can reverse the transaction if required.
Air Malta has a grand total of 12 planes, carries c 2 million passengers per year and is State-owned.
You can seach for Air Malta flights using the standard avios.com reward booking site. If there is availability, it will show up. (And there is not a huge amount of availability in the system, so be prepared to be flexible.)
Now, there is a very good blog called MaltaPoints. Tom, who writes it, also reads and comments on HFP, and he took a look at the redemption offerings for me.His conclusions were (paraphrased by me, any errors below are my fault!):
The only Air Malta flights offered with Avios appear to be London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester to Malta. There are some other seasonal departure points, but they do not seem to be included. You also cannot use them to fly from a 3rd country to Malta.
Economy flights cost 20,000 Avios return plus £43 – £57 of tax depending on departure airport. Business class seats do not seem to be available.
A return flight from London to Malta for cash costs from £129 return in November to £299 in August, bought well in advance (they can top £350 at short notice).
On this basis, if you can get seats in August for Avios, you would be getting over 1p per point (but it may be a big ‘if’). Based on the November price, you would be getting just 0.36p per Avios which is a very poor deal (20,000 Avios + £57 for a £129 cash flight).
When considering ‘value per Avios’, remember that Avios bookings are refundable up to 24 hours before departure for a £25 fee. This makes them more flexible than a cheap cash ticket. (The Avios rules do say that partner airline bookings have the same cancellation rights as BA redemptions, but do double check the rules which are shown during the booking process.)
But Air Malta is joining Star Alliance!
What makes this redemption option rather odd is that Air Malta is apparently on the verge of announcing that it is joining Miles & More and becoming a full Star Alliance partner.
Air Malta is already a de-facto Star Alliance partner. You can already earn and spend Miles & More miles when flying on Air Malta, as well as redeeming Air Malta Flypass miles for Lufthansa flights.
This may mean that the Avios / Air Malta partnership will not be with us for much longer. However, it is worth a look whilst it exists.