Konrad Mizzi drives hard bargain for Air Malta pilots

The Air Malta management is about to hit the brakes on demands for higher salaries, a move that comes on the heals the rejection by pilots of a 5% salary increase offered by tourism minister Konrad Mizzi

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
31 July 2017, 9:38am
Apart from 26 days of annual leave, pilots get a statutory ‘day off’ of 38 hours’ rest after flying
Apart from 26 days of annual leave, pilots get a statutory ‘day off’ of 38 hours’ rest after flying
Pilots and Air Malta management could be set for collision as the national airline’s new direction is about to hit the brakes on demands for higher salaries.

This comes after tourism minister Konrad Mizzi offered pilots a 5% increase in salaries against longer flying hours, an offer that was not welcomed by pilots union ALPA.

Talk of industrial action has already been mooted over outstanding pay rises,  a pilot who spoke to this newspaper said, although the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) has to contend with a sizeable number of members who are unenthusiastic about any strike action.

Apart from 26 days of annual leave, pilots get a statutory ‘day off’ of 38 hours’ rest after flying: that means that on average, pilots fly some 56 hours a month, far less than European counterparts. But airline management wants pilots to fly at least 75 hours a month.

As already revealed in the past, ALPA’s demands in June 2016 included a 30% increase to raise basic salaries to €48,000 and then up to €92,000 before additional payments, apart from backdated increments since the expiry of the collective agreement in 2016.

Mizzi made his mark early on at Air Malta when he asked chairman Maria Micallef to resign, replacing her with former Enemalta chairman Charles Mangion, appointing a new board of directors, and also reintroducing recently-cut flights like the Frankfurt route and bringing back the Tunis route after eight years of stoppage.

An Air Malta source said Mizzi was adamant that any salary increments will only be given on condition that pilots fly more throughout the year.

But several pilots who spoke to MaltaToday on condition of anonymity said flying the European average should also be accompanied by salaries that match those of other legacy airlines.

“Mizzi’s philosophy is to drive growth, not just cut costs. But the pilots know that a lot is riding on their cooperation,” the airline source told MaltaToday.

Mizzi has already warned that without opening new routes – which requires Air Malta pilots to simply fly for more hours throughout the year – the company will become insolvent “in no time.”

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Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...