Updated | Judge upholds Air Malta injunction

A judge has provisionally upheld a request for an injunction filed by Air Malta against airline pilots’ union ALPA

A judge has provisionally upheld a request for an injunction filed by Air Malta against airline pilots’ union ALPA.

On Sunday evening the airline sought a court injunction against the pilots' union, holding it responsible for damages any action on their part could cause the airline. 

The airline said earlier this week a conflict arose between the chief officer flight operations and the publications officer, both pilots, after the former asked for the flight manuals. The publications officer "refused" to pass on the flight manuals, which are the airline's property, Air Malta said in a statement, in which it described the pilots' actions as "disproportionate".

READ MORE: Pilots vote in favour of industrial action

In a decree handed down yesterday, Judge Toni Abela provisionally upheld the warrant, as per procedure. The case will now continue on Wednesday at noon..

The union is in dispute with the airline after members voted on Sunday afternoon in favour of industrial action.

91% of the union’s members voted in favour of industrial action, after it claimed that an Air Malta employee and ALPA member was seriously threatened and intimidated by a senior manager.

According to media reports, the threats were made during an clash between Air Malta’s Flight Operations chief requested Air Malta operations manuals from a first officer earlier this week.

ALPA requested authorisation from its members to commence industrial action proceedings including a possible withdrawal of service.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the government would not be "blackmailed" by pilots, who are currently negotiating a new collective agreement with the airline. 

Air Malta has since said that all flights and services are all operating normally and that no direct disruptions are expected in the next two days. However, if the industrial action goes forward, arrangements are in place to minimise the impact this could have on passengers, and to safeguard Air Malta’s flight schedule.

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The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association said that they were alarmed at the escalation of the industrial dispute at Air Malta and the threat of Industrial Action voted in favour by practically all the Union Members of ALPA the pilots Union. The association called for a cool down period.

“MHRA truly believes that Air Malta could, with a good business plan, truly become the airline of the Mediterranean,” the statement said.  

The statement said that they were concerned, and called for all parties to find a solution round the negotiating table. 

“MHRA notes that any disruption of service will create considerable inconvenience to travellers, if not outright cancellation of bookings, to and from Malta and would cause enormous damage to the industry which has been investing tens of millions of Euros in improving its infrastructure and product.”

READ MORE: Hoteliers pile pressure on Air Malta Pilots

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry also said that saving Air Malta was a must.

“Today, in the national interest and that of businesses, the Chamber is once again in support of the airline and those negotiating on its behalf to ensure it remains in a position to operate uninterruptedly, and into the future,” The Chamber said.

The Chamber expressed its grave concern on possible irresponsible industrial action intended to interrupt Air Malta’s services.  Such action, the statement said, would not only result in devastating effects on the airline itself, but also on the country’s economy at large.

It said that it was unfortunate that a small yet important section of the company employees once again threatened to paralyze the entire operation of the airline jeopardising the livelihood of their colleagues in other sections of the airline and with them all businesses and workers whose livelihood depends on the national airline. 

“The Malta Chamber once again calls for common sense to prevail in unblocking this dangerous impasse for the economy and for the highest degree of responsibility on the negotiation table."

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