Government looking beyond Air Malta restructuring plan – Tourism Minister

Edward Zammit Lewis says that the government will listen to the advice of aviation experts on how the government can strengthen Air Malta

The government is looking at ways of strengthening Air Malta that go beyond its original restructuring, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis revealed. 

“We honoured the restructuring plan that we had found in place but we cannot rest solely on that plan,” Zammit Lewis said during discussion programme Sibt il-Punt on Saturday. “In December, we kicked off a process to find aviation experts to review the government’s position as a shareholder of Air Malta and suggest ways through which the government can strengthen the national airline.”

He added that he plans to see Air Malta become commercially viable and relevant in both the airline and tourism sectors.

“Air Malta is indispensable to Malta’s tourism,” Zammit Lewis said. “Throughout the years, the airline operated routes that made sense for tourism but did not make sense to the airline from a commercial standpoint.

“This is why Air Malta must be seen as an integral part of our tourism.”

Air Malta went through a massive restructuring imposed by the EU after the government saved it from bankruptcy in 2010 with a €52 million loan. Two years later the EU approved €130 million in State aid on condition that the airline was restructured. Air Malta almost halved its workforce, reduced the number of planes in operation and cut capacity.

The Opposition has previously warned that Air Malta’s losses were not in conformity to this restructuring plan. They criticised the government over 'vindictive, high-level transfers' at the national airline, for the recruitment of 300 ne employees and for the “needless” promotion of 17 flight attendants to flight managers at an annual cost of €250,000.

In October, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insisted that carrying out the restructuring plan was a priority.  

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