Caruana says Air Malta will not be employing any new people

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana promises full breakdown of expenses faced by airline over the years once negotiations with European Commission are concluded

File photo
File photo

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has said Air Malta will not be employing any new workers, when speaking in parliament on Monday.

The minister, whose remit includes the national airline, faced a number of questions on Air Malta during parliament’s question time on Monday.

Caruana refused to give details, citing ongoing negotiations with the European Commission.

The minister said current staffing levels are “optimal” should the airline continue to operate with eight planes.

Caruana said that when he first became responsible for the airline, the company was employing 1,000 people, a number which has now been reduced to 375.

He also said that regardless of how negotiations pan out, Malta will have a national airline.

The minister stated that a full breakdown of expenses faced by the airline over the years will be provided once negotiations ae concluded.

“This long-drawn saga has cost the country a lot of money,” Caruana said.

Nationalist MP Ivan J Bartolo asked Caruana on the transfer of business, and on the process of transferring of tickets from passengers who would have bought flight tickets with the existing airline, to the supposed new airline. Caruana was also asked about wet lease arrangements, the business model of the new airline as well as what will happen to slots sold by former Finance Minister Konrad Mizzi.

Questioned by PN MP Mario Demarco, the minister did not react to statements made by airline CEO David Curmi, confirming plans to close down the airline. He once again cited ongoing negotiations, stating he is eager to plan the way forward for the airline.

The minister said government has taken into consideration the impact on the country’s deficit, saying that despite any interventions it might have to make, government is still aiming at reducing deficit to 5%.

Caruana insisted government needs to be certain that decisions taken will conclude problems which have plagued the airline “once and for all”.