€14 million for Air Malta consultants in five years

Air Malta management paid €4.7 million between 2010 and 2013 • Foreign consultants received €14 million between 2008 and 2013

Foreign consultants employed by Air Malta during 2008 and 2013 were paid €14,342,044, a parliamentary question tabled by Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis has revealed.

In reply to a question raised by backbencher Anthony Agius Decelis, the minister also said that workers employed at management level received €4,704,303 between 2010 and 2013.

For some reason, Air Malta does not have access to information pertaining to salaries dating between 2008 and 2009.

In reply to various questions, Zammit Lewis said the CEO (Peter Davies) and the CCO (Philip Saunders) had been recruited through SpencerStuart agency whilst the CFO (Nick Xuereb) was recruited through the PSD Group. The Chief Restructuring Officer, Ray Hart, was appointed through a direct contract awarded to Catalise.

Davies was a former director of Catalise plc, a UK consultancy firm from where he recruited turnaround experts during his tenure at the helm of such airlines as SN Brussels, and later BWIA. Catalise was later dissolved, but founder-director Ray Hart – who would become Air Malta's chief restructuring officer - was the director of Australian offshoot Catalise Pty.

Saunders and Davies had worked together at BWIA in its rebrand to Caribbean Airline.

Further replies by Zammit Lewis revealed how Xuereb also occupied the post of chairman of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority whilst serving as the airline’s CFO. “It doesn’t transpire that a call was issued,” he added.

Zammit Lewis made sure to deliver home the message that foreigners currently employed by the airline had been chosen “following a rigorous process”.

“Those employed have been chosen based on their expertise and not their nationality. Due to lack of local expertise, Air Malta had to issue an international call. The difference is that we never automatically excluded Maltese,” Zammit Lewis said, adding that two posts had been filled by Maltese.

In supplementary questions, Zammit Lewis said revelations of further consultancies paid by Air Malta under the previous administration “were pleasures yet to come”.

In 2012, the European Commission approved Air Malta’s restructuring plan and gave its green light to a €130 million state aid which the government had granted to help Air Malta address its financial problems.

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