Air Malta makes 69 pilots redundant after talks with union fail

Air Malta forced to axe the jobs of 69 pilots after talks with union fail on Friday night

Air Malta has made 69 pilots redundant as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the union's intransigence to settle for a deal
Air Malta has made 69 pilots redundant as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the union's intransigence to settle for a deal

Air Malta is going ahead with the redundancies of 69 pilots after talks with the union failed, the airline said in a statement late on Friday night.

The company said that talks with ALPA, the airline’s pilot union, on measures to avoid redundancies in order to safeguard its ongoing sustainability and viability, failed.

“After numerous lengthy meetings, Air Malta and the union did not reach an agreement and consequently the airline was left with no other choice but to proceed with the redundancies of 69 of its pilots,” the company said.

The move comes after a protracted standoff between the airline’s management and pilots after the latter refused to accept a social wage of €1,200 per month in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Air Malta said that while the other unions representing the rest of its workforce understood the need to accept changes required to safeguard their livelihood, ALPA resorted to making unreasonable demands at a time when the airline’s revenue has been severely compromised.

“Air Malta regrets the stance ALPA has taken to the detriment of its members, which forced the airline to take the undesired action with the resultant consequences to a large segment of its pilot workforce,” the company said.

Union's demands "unreasonable" - Silvio Schembri

In a statement late last night, Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business Silvio Schembri said the decision came at the end of several long meetings with the union, which he said was insisting on an early retirement scheme worth €73 million, that would see an average payout of €700,000 to every pilot.

The union’s demands were unreasonable and its position regrettable, given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel Schembri said.

As a result of the union’s position, the Government had to make decisions which weren’t wished for, but necessary, he added.

Schembri thanked the other unions who represented the other workers at Air Malta for “accepting the necessary changes to their collective agreements,” which were necessary to safeguard the future of the company.

The airline would continue to operate whilst remaining sustainable in order to benefit not only the workers but also the Maltese economy, he said.

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