[WATCH] Government to push Air Malta reform this year

In the annual reception organised by the Labour Party for members of the media and constituted bodies, Joseph Muscat says 2016 will be a year of ‘consolidation’

Labour leader Joseph Muscat flanked by deputy leader Toni Abela (L) and organising secretary William Lewis
Labour leader Joseph Muscat flanked by deputy leader Toni Abela (L) and organising secretary William Lewis
Government to target Air Malta reform in 2016

Government is set to prioritise the reform of national airline Air Malta during this year, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has confirmed.

Addressing members of the media and constituted bodies during the annual gathering organised by the Labour Party, Muscat said one of the important reforms to be carried out this year included Air Malta.

“Air Malta’s intrinsic value for the domestic economy is huge and we are committed to ensure that the airline continues to move forward, ensuring a future for its workers and those depending on it,” the Labour leader said.

Reassuring that civil society will be involved in the talks, Muscat said the government was “submitting itself” to the scrutiny of the media.

Following what the government described “a successful” strategic partnership which turned around Enemalta, Air Malta is expected to follow down the same path with Etihad Airways touted to be Air Malta’s new partner.

Although there has been no official confirmation of who the “strategic partner” is going to be, MaltaToday reported in November that the Abu Dhabi based airline was in advanced talks with government over an equity investment in the ailing Air Malta.

Air Malta is in the final year of a five-year restructuring plan that the previous government had agreed with the European Commission in 2012 in return for its approval of around €130 million in state aid. 

In his opening comments, Muscat took a humorous jab at his own New Year’s message – a video much scrutinised by journalists, commentators and social media users – commenting that the hall at the Centru Nazzjonali Laburista “was much different than a kitchen setting”.

Offering a preview of what’s in store for the coming months, Muscat said 2016 will be a year of consolidation and implementing the budget measures in line with Labour’s electoral programme.

The Labour leader called on the media to equally scrutinise the implementation of budgetary measures whose enforcement is not dependent on the authorities.

“2014 and 2015 were two year of reforms in the energy and health sectors, the labour market and social reforms including civil liberties. These reforms are today being taken for granted … people should remember that, civil unions between same-sex couples and the provision of free childcare centres haven’t been with us for 100 years but reforms that took place over the last two years and a half.”

More in National