The pilots' union has condemned what it has called a 'personal attack by Air Malta' on its President, Dominic Azzopardi.
The airline pilots association ALPA has hit out at a news report that appeared in The Sunday Times, claiming that the information had been leaked to tarnish Captain Dominic Azzopardi's reputation after the airline filed an industrial dispute with Air Malta.
The union is suggesting that the story may have been leaked to the press to punish the pilots' union, led by its President Dominic Azzopardi, for having filed the industrial dispute. In fact, the union has dubbed the report as "personal attack by Air Malta" against Azzopardi.
Condemning the attack on its president, ALPA said the aim of the story was aimed at discrediting and tarnishing the reputation of its leader.
"Moreover, the story reported on the Sunday Times does not portray the facts as actually happened and serve only to put one of our members in bad light. This is a clear attempt at character assassination," ALPA said in a statement.
According to the newspaper, Air Malta was investigating the delay of a flight from Milan to Malta after the captain waited 30 minutes for Azzopardi and his family to board the plane.
But the union is insisting that the timing of the article was "highly suspicious": "This especially, after the information has been "leaked" right after ALPA registered an industrial dispute with the company on Friday."
ALPA also questioned the editorial decision of the paper to give the report on Azzopardi prominent coverage. "We cannot understand how this event merited front page coverage whilst a letter by former Airmalta Chairman Louis Grech on the RJ Saga was relegated to the middle pages.
"Could the fact that Air Malta's current chairman Louis Farrugia, who sits on the Allied Newspaper's board of directors, have anything to do with the matter?"
The pilots' union said that airline's attitude will only serve to provoke and accused it of dirty tactics that the company's higher management is resorting to in an attempt to discredit the Union.
"[We] will not comment on the matter further, pending the investigation's outcome. However, we are concerned about the fairness of this inquiry, since now it's been biased and marred by the unwarranted and misleading media leak."
On Friday the association informed the Air Malta management and the industrial tribunal of an industrial dispute, which will come into force as of Wednesday.
Pilots and Air Malta's management remain at loggerheads over the restructuring of the national airline - recently the airline said pilots wanted an increase in their annual salaries, while pilots say they are right in demanding an increase after having frozen their salaries for three years in a bid to assist the airline restructuring.