Malta chamber welcomes ‘sensible and realistic’ approach on national airline

Chamber of commerce welcomes restructuring plan but says workers should be considered for secondment to the private sector

File photo
File photo

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the “sensible and realistic” approach taken by government on the national airline.

“The transparency in reporting the challenges at hand and the commitment to take concreate decisions that are first and foremost in the national interest are apparent,” it said. “The Malta Chamber notes the stark contrast to the various approaches taken historically with respect to Air Malta.”

On Friday, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana announced Air Malta’s workforce will be halved under plans to make the airline financially viable as the government awaits final amount of state aid Brussels will allow.

“Undoubtedly, gone are the days when we carry forward unsustainable operational practices in any state entity and keep pumping public funds into unviable business models, simply to safeguard jobs for political convenience,” the statement read.

The chamber said it hopes Air Malta’s predicament will be an eyeopener for the management of public entities and the rationalisation of public expenditure that needs to prevail going forward.

“The Malta Chamber recommends that workers who will be shed from Air Malta will first be considered for secondment to the private sector particularly given the acute shortages of human resources in the private sector,” it said. “This will avoid shifting the problem of excess employment to other state entities.”

It called government’s measures “reasonable and credible”. “They acknowledge the particular challenges related to the size of the airline and the markets in which it operates.”

“The ambition to move forward with implementation at a quick pace is another bold move and will help Malta regaining credibility with the European Commission.”

It also made reference to policy document issued in November by The Malta Chamber entitled ‘Rediscover: a New Vision for the Tourism Industry in Malta’, which calls for the promotion of Malta as a year-round strategy.

“This is also in the interest of improving average occupancy in touristic accommodation and having a more sustainable tourism industry,” the statement read.

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