Hotels lobby joins calls to transfer Air Malta workers to private sector

MHRA vows to support government during Air Malta's restructuring process

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association has joined calls to have laid-off Air Malta workers transferred to the private sector instead of the public, with the airline expected to lay off half its workforce. 

The association said it will support government during Air Malta’s restructuring process, which will see the airline operate a strategy based on commercial lines. 

“The announced restructuring plan for Air Malta is a must and is set to be in the right direction,” MHA President Tony Zahra stated. “Lessons must be learnt, and past mistakes must not be repeated for the sake of the employees, the tourism sector, and the wider economy as a whole. It is imperative that Air Malta is saved.”. 

The MHRA had previously warned about the need for a sustainable national airline. It said that one of the most important cost factors to achieve sustainability was the right sizing in terms of number of employees per aircraft in the fleet.  

In a statement, the association said it was clear that the company had a bloated work force. The decision to halve its workforce was a substantial step in the right direction, but more decisions must be taken to ensure Air Malta’s long-term future, it said.  

MHRA pointed out that Air Malta has played a vital role in supporting national economic, social, and cultural development, especially by ensuring stable and regular connectivity within Europe and beyond.  

It said that Air Malta contributes to 30% of traffic and ensures year-round operations by maintaining more than 50% seat capacity in the winter months while other legacy airlines typically reduce capacity by circa 70%. 

“Air Malta was crucial during the pandemic and kept the island connected. Indeed, air connectivity is crucial for Malta’s tourism, as 98% of tourists reach the country by air. Around 50% of Malta’s GDP consists of sectors that are highly dependent on-air connectivity.” 

“MHRA has over the past years been following closely the sometimes confusing and contradictory restructuring process - and has always been vociferous on the matter all along. Air Malta remains a critical variable in the connectivity formula altogether with the other airlines operating to and from Malta.” 

“Indeed, sustaining the established routes and perhaps creating new ones over the coming years is critical and remains a top priority for the recovery and relaunch of the tourism sector,” it said.