[WATCH] PN: Government restructuring plan for Air Malta has failed

PN MPs say Clyde Caruana should come forward and say whether Air Malta’s employee transfer scheme is still doable after deadline was moved to October from mid-August  

File photo
File photo

The Nationalist Party has claimed government’s plan to make Air Malta financially viable has failed.

“Clyde Caruana should come clean and speak with the same honesty he spoke with last January, and say if government’s plan to restructure the airline is still credible and achievable,” PN Air Malta spokesperson Ivan J. Bartolo said.

On 14 January, government announced it would create a voluntary employee transfer scheme in a bid to cut Air Malta’s workforce by half and save €15 million per year in wages as part of a restructuring exercise.

The scheme would see Air Malta workers being employed by the government in grades commensurate with their current income.

On Sunday, MaltaToday revealed how a mid-August deadline for the transfer scheme to be completed has been moved to October, because airline bosses fear the exodus would hamper day-to-day operations.

The company received 571 applications from the 824 eligible employees when the scheme closed on 11 February.

This was more than the government was expecting.

Air Malta Executive Chairman David Curmi has told MaltaToday that a final deadline has yet to be decided and the company is in discussions with the unions.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Bartolo said the party had initially welcomed the plan, as it was similar to what it had suggested back in 2012.

“I had recognised its importance in saving the airline, but eight months down the line it shows that not all risks and challenges were identified,” he said. “Fundamental principles in change management were not recognised.”

He said the minister had good intentions, but did not take into consideration a number of factors. “Now we only have the selected few, like Karl Stagno Navvara who had successfully made the transfer.”

MP Ivan Castillo reiterated Bartolo’s statement, saying government’s promises “have faded into nothing.”

“Labour politicians knew there was a restructuring plan, and government had promised it had everything in place, but if you don’t follow up on that promise, you are not credible,” he said.

He also questioned whether the airline’s restructuring delay would be affecting the European Commission’s approval for state-aid for Air Malta.

Moving forward, the PN MPs said solutions must be sought with all the affected stakeholders.