Air Malta state aid negotiations coming to an end – Clyde Caruana

The Finance Minister said he will have no problem divulging what was agreed upon once discussions come to an end

Discussions with the European Commission on state aid for Air Malta are coming to an end, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said on Wednesday evening.

In parliament, Caruana said that he will not mind revealing what was agreed upon during negotiations, and emphasised that he is making sure that no workers are thrown to the side in the process.

“Workers are never to blame. We need to discuss the actions taken, but I want to make sure that no one is thrown away,” he said.

Caruana said that the national airline burnt through €435 million over the past 15 years, or €29 million a year. The few profits made along the years were the result of sold assets, he said.

“That’s not sustainable,” he stated sternly.

Caruana had previously admitted that Air Malta is in a pitiful state, especially with the blow dealt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of the hit, Malta is requesting permission from Brussels to pump millions into the airline, with reports suggesting that government wants to provide €290 million in subsidies.

Any state aid would have to be accompanied by a reform programme. A similar package agreed with the Commission in 2012 resulted in job cuts and reduced routes.

Caruana has never confirmed whether Air Malta will make hefty redundancies as a result of the ongoing state aid talks. However, he reassured workers in his parliamentary speech that he will be first to meet with them and their representatives to explain the road ahead.

“I will tell workers on thing: I won’t promise you anything, except that I won’t take you for a ride or throw you away,” he said.

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