While other airlines are going bust, or dropping routes, Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, recently placed an order for up to 205 Boeing and Airbus aircraft, following an unprecedented $8 billion order for new aircraft in 2004.
And the award-winning airline, born a mere five years ago, has chosen local Megabyte Ltd's ARPS software, which, in a nutshell, can determine the profitability, or loss of a particular flight on a particular route within 10 minutes of landing.
The Abu Dhabi-based national carrier claims Megabyte's software is "currently by far the best we have seen in the world".
The contract between Etihad Airways and Megabyte Ltd was signed at the Mosta Technopark on Monday, following a tender process that kicked off almost a year ago in search of the right partner, said Duncan Naysmith, Etihad Airways vice-president financial reporting.
Etihad issued an international request for proposals for the implementation of a route profitability solution, and a number of major international software vendors submitted an offer, but it was Megabyte's proposal that made it to the finishing line.
It was shortlisted from 10 international companies, following numerous site visits - marking an important "milestone" for the 30-year-old company, despite the fact that it already has a number of achievements under its belt.
Etihad carried out an extensive evaluation of Megabyte's products and services, as well as a due diligence exercise to determine its capability to handle such business critical projects, said Mr Naysmith.
"When we came to the Megabyte proposal, what inspired us to choose them was the fact that their system is currently by far the best we have seen in the world," he said.
"The backbone of the team in terms of their qualifications and professionalism" was also a plus, as was Megabyte's "history". The fact that its staff has been around for a long time, meaning its resources have been retained in-house, was an additional bonus, compared to other tendering companies, whose staff turnover was high.
"Among the major selling points of the Megabyte solution is the fact that the software can be customised to meet Etihad's requirements and integrates with industry standard financial systems, like the Oracle eBusiness Suite," Mr Naysmith said.
The solution also has the ability to interface with other airline specific systems, such as those dealing with revenue accounting, fuel management and flight operations. Etihad also feels confident that Megabyte can offer a number of value added services, such as business process consulting and professional service management, he said.
"We wanted to align ourselves with a strategic partner and build a model that suits our needs. Megabyte was keen on that too".
The software enables the airline to analyse individual routes and their profitability, ensuring that it can deploy its aircraft on the best routes possible in terms of return on investment, Mr Naysmith explained. For Megabyte Ltd founder-director Karm Galea, the fact that Megabyte was found to be "tops in any area they were considering" is nothing short of a satisfaction - not only for the company, but even for Malta.
Having such a big company choosing to work with such a small company in such a small island should have positive repercussions for the country, Mr Galea maintained.
"The contract should give a good name not just to Megabyte, but also to Malta. Both of us need boosting!
"We believe there is more scope for our business and its expansion to other airlines, given today's scenario," he said. Having secured the Etihad contract, it is hoping it would lead to others of the sort.
"We are already working with other airlines, and the Etihad contract should boost our credibility. But we need time before we embark on others because our resources are limited" - Megabyte employs 60 staff including specialised engineers and IT-qualified personnel across five specialised business units.
"The go-live date for Etihad Airways software is November 5, so we cannot take on other contracts immediately," Mr Galea said, keeping his feet planted firmly on the ground. Companies needed to look overseas and secure international contracts, he said. "We have exhausted what is available in Malta." EU membership is helping that, he continued, saying the island is no longer isolated.
"In a country as small as Malta, you cannot focus on just one thing and that is why Megabyte has always offered total computer solutions."
Megabyte is by no means new to the airline route profitability system, which it originally created for Air Malta, followed by another version for Cyprus Airways, and which is constantly upgraded and arranged according to the requirements. In layman's terms, all information is instantly available because the system already contains the contracts of every single supplier worldwide and every single cost is entered.
The detail drills down to landing times, which have different costs... Even a tomato on your plate is taken into account for overall profitability. Basically, "you can see if a route from here to Cyprus is worth doing, or not".
The revenue accounting system takes into account the tickets sold and at what price, so it is a simple calculation, Mr Galea explained.
"You can do what you want with the data, including projections for six months ahead, for example, with minimum effort.
"Many airlines have spread sheets and the big companies have systems they created for themselves. We do not expect these to come to us..."
But the fastest-growing airline - and three-time winner of the World's Leading New Airline at the World Travel Awards - has.
Etihad Airways' revenue has doubled in the last year and it is closing its financial year as a $2.5 billion company, which should double in size again by 2009, Mr Naysmith said. It currently has 38 aircraft, flying to 45 destinations, and is targeting 70 international destinations by 2010. In terms of infrastructure, it is developing a new airport in Abu Dhabi, and will be flying to another four destinations by the end of the year.