Updated | After redundancies, Air Malta must demote captains to flight officers

ALPA pilots union claims Air Malta is in a state of illegality because demotion of captains must come with safety risk assessment

Air Malta must demote captains to flight officers since it has made redundant all its flight officers
Air Malta must demote captains to flight officers since it has made redundant all its flight officers

Updated at 6:30 pm with Air Malta statment 

Malta’s pilots union ALPA has claimed a decision taken by Air Malta management team to make pilots redundant and demote a substantial number of captains to flight officers was taken without commissioning a safety risk assessment as required by Transport Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate.

With Air Malta making 69 pilots redundant after ALPA refused to consent to radical pay cuts across the board due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline had to retain its most senior staff – all captains – and ‘demote’ a portion of them to flight officers.

This will force Air Malta to make captains ‘re-train’ as flight officers during simulation exercises for the aircraft they will fly.

ALPA now say this has given rise to a “state of illegality leading to newly-demoted pilots being pulled off rosters.”

“Accordingly, Air Malta may only presently deploy around 30 pilots to operate upcoming flights. The legal responsibility for such irregularity, as well as the consequences stemming therefrom, will have to be borne by the CEO of the Company, Clifford Chetcuti,” ALPA said.

ALPA is attempting to stop Air Malta making its pilots redundant after a final decision was taken following unsuccessful negotiations with a prohibitory injunction in court.

“Air Malta’s lawyer Dr Galea Cavallazzi made it very clear in court that the company would not meet ALPA. Whist reaffirming that the association is open to the possibility of meetings being held, it should be borne in mind that the termination of employment of 69 pilots, as well as the demotions in question, were communicated directly to our members, despite discussions still being underway and despite the executive committee having received specific assurances that this would not happen. These redundancies and demotions have earned Air Malta the top spot in the European hall of shame.”

Air Malta deny ALPA statement

Air Malta has strongly denied ALPA’s comments, insisting risk assessments have been conducted and will continue to be carried out as the situation evolves. 

“Air Malta fails to understand ALPA’s rationale, whereby it seems to be persistently doing its utmost to damage the Airline’s good safety reputation at a time when the industry requires all stakeholders to group together to navigate through this unprecedented storm,” the statement read. 

It also said that it has continued to do its utmost to avoid redundancies during the pandemic. 

“However, for jobs to be secure whilst safeguarding the company’s viability, compromise and goodwill from all staff members is required.”

The airline said it remains open to discussions “in good faith”, stating it looks to reach an agreement which secures sustainability and future viability of the company.   

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