Air Malta’s future: Government to retain majority shareholding, no comment on workers

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis silent on Air Malta’s ‘strategic partner’ but reassures that government ‘will remain majority shareholder’

The government will retain its “majority shareholding” in Air Malta if the national airline is to link up with “a strategic partner”, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis told parliament.

He however was less clear on the future of Air Malta’s workers and said he could not give any information due to the “ongoing restructuring process” and “commercially sensitive information”.

Replying to questions raised by PN MP Antoine Borg in parliament, Zammit Lewis would not delve further on suggestions that the government may have been in talks with Etihad Airways. Borg asked whether talks between the two sides had reached an advanced stage.

This is not the first time that questions on a strategic partner for Air Malta have been raised, with speculation mounting around Air China, among other airlines.

Air Malta chairwoman Maria Micallef has highlighted the need for the airline to have a strategic partner. She also said that the Air Malta workforce needed to increase its productivity by 25% in some areas to compete with other airlines.

Zammit Lewis said the last time that Air Malta had agreed to lay off workers was in 2010, in line with the airline’s restructuring process.

Pressing the minister, Borg said the minister should give workers peace of mind. However, Zammit Lewis said talks had now reached a sensitive phase and no information could be divulged.

“I will personally meet with the workers after talks are concluded,” he added.

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