PN warns smaller fleet could be 'beginning of Air Malta's end'

Claudio Grech says conversion of Air Malta into a low-cost airline will prove 'disastrous'


A reduction in Air Malta's fleet could signal the beginning of the end for the national airline, shadow economy minister Claudio Grech said.
"Air Malta must improve its seat capacity, a direct impact on the airlines capacity to bring tourists to Malta," Grech told a press conference called.

Air Malta's chief executive Philip Micallef has said that the airline has drafted plans to carry more passengers on four fewer aeroplanes this winter.

“Air Malta’s ultimate aim is to do more with less and increase productivity of its assets," Micallef said in a statement. "Various initiatives are being taken such as operating more night flights, carrying more maintenance during the night, improving aircraft turnaround times and modifying flight departure times."

Grech insisted that the PN arent looking to shoot this proposal down, but called for more clarity over how a fleet reduction can in fact improve efficiency and how tourists will not be exposed to loss of seat space.

He also warned that the conversion of Air Malta into a low-cost airline would be disastrous.

"Half our tourists arrive through Air Malta, the vast majority of whom arrive through packaged tours," Grech said. "These packages could be lost if Air Malta becomes low-cost."

He insisted that under no circumstances should control of Air Malta's shares be lost to foreign companies.

"Its shareholding must reflect its national strategic mission, rather than the commercial interests of another airline," Grech said. "However, this does not mean that Air Malta shouldn't enter into strategic alliances with other airlines, rather that such alliances should be based on collaboration, rather than the selling of shares. Airlines interested in buying Air Malta's shares will be interested in taking control over its most profitable routes."

More in National