Air Malta pilot redundancies can be avoided if agreement is reached - Economy Minister

Silvio Schembri says that if agreement is reached between Air Malta and ALPA on the way forward, plans to let go of 108 pilots could be halted

A reversal of the decision to let go of 109 pilots hinges on whether the airline reaches an agreement with ALPA, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said
A reversal of the decision to let go of 109 pilots hinges on whether the airline reaches an agreement with ALPA, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said

Air Malta's decision on whether to let go of the majority of its pilots hinges on whether an agreement is found between the parties on the way forward, Silvio Schembri said.

The Economy Minister said that the process - which takes 30 days - concerning the redundancies of 108 pilots was currently ongoing before Air Malta's employment board, but that if the national carrier and ALPA (Airline Pilots Association) found an agreement, the decision to let go of the pilots could be halted.

Schembri, who was fielding questions from journalists after a press conference on the government's COVID-19 measures, said that in the past days the stance of Air Malta's crew and pilots had softened in terms of an offer for a reduced salary package in light of the impact of the coronavirus.

Previously, Air Malta's pilots had resisted an offer of having their monthly salaries cut to €1,200 for the next three months while the airline's flights are almost completely grounded due to the measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus.

The airline's crew and pilots had however now changed their tune, Schembri said.

"The reality is that COVID-19 has affected the company and people are now realising this situation in aviation more... Difficult decisions must be taken - this messae seems to have been understood more now," he said.

Schembri denied that Air Malta had in any way U-turned on its plans to dismiss the pilots.

He said that it was first the airline's cabin crew which accepted the offer of a lower salary, after which the airlie had insisted on more safeguards to ensure the disagreements on the issue did not repeat themselves.

"The company is now in discussion with its cabin crew and pilots on the social wage and on the way forward. The redundancy process is still ongoing as its 30-day window has not yet elapsed. But there was no government U-turn," he said.

"If within the 30 days the company and pilots reach an agreement, then the redundancy process will be halted. If not, then decisions must be taken," the minister added.

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