Pilots against reduction of Air Malta fleet

Reducing capacity will reduce Air Malta’s market share, say pilots in protest at ‘short-term quick-fix’

Pilots’ union ALPA has expressed concern over plans being considered by Air Malta to reduce its fleet.

ALPA secretary John de Carlo said that pilots were concerned the fleet reduction would make matters worse for the airline, now reportedly seeking a strategic partnership with Turkish Airlines as it strives to break-even under the rules of a restructuring plan mandated by the European Commission. 

“Such a move could make matters worse for the airline and that it will further undermine Air Malta’s capability to compete in today’s markets. It seems to show that Air Malta is not looking into its long-term survival, but rather into short-term quick-fixes,” De Carlo said.

The ALPA secretary said reducing aircraft would bring about capacity, losing out on Air Malta’s current market share. “Air Malta should rather work towards increasing its market share and a reduction in the number of aircraft will definitely not help in this matter. It will only undermine Air Malta’s expansion prospects, and ultimately, its only survival.”

De Carlo said one of Air Malta’s biggest disadvantages as a small carrier has always been associated with economies of scale, while it competes with carriers whose fleet size runs into the hundreds of aircraft. “A further fleet reduction will only increase this disadvantage,” he said.

He welcomed a planned increase in flights for the coming winter, but said he hoped a detailed analysis of the current route structure would be done, fearing that the airline will be operating more flights with less aircraft.

“Whilst we agree with increasing aircraft utilisation, we do have our concerns whether such plans are feasible and possible,” he said.

De Carlo said ALPA was adamant that growth should guide future plans for the airline. “Fleet reduction would result in lower costs [but] it would inevitably be accompanied by a reduction in generated revenue, the result being less chance for the airline making a profit.

“ALPA urges Air Malta to look into revenue generating initiatives, some of which have been proposed for too long by various stakeholders, including ALPA, so as to secure a future for the airline.”