MHRA warns Air Malta pilots against short-sighted threats

MHRA urges government to ensure that Malta retain decision-making authority in any deal Air Malta may reach on the sale of its majority shareholding

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association urged Air Malta pilots – and the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) – to act with prudence and refrain from short-sighted actions or threats that could lead to damaging the confidence of tourists traveling to Malta.

It reminded ALPA that the consequences of their actions, motivated by requests for further improved financial and working conditions, were already threatening the industry and livelihood of thousands.

“This is unacceptable,” MGRA said, while insisting Air Malta was a critical variable in the success formula of Malta’s tourism sector.

ALPA on Sunday refuted reports that it was demanding a €50,000 yearly increase in the wages of Air Malta’s pilots, following a report by the Sunday Times of Malta, which reported Air Malta pilots each wanted an increase of €50,00 in their take-home pay to put on them on part with their counterparts at Alitalia.

The newspaper reported that the new financial package demanded by ALPA would see the national airline's expenditure on pilot wages alone increase to €17 million, up by €6 million. It reported that Air Malta’s 122 pilots each take home an average of €93,000 per year.

However, in a statement, ALPA denied the claims, arguing that the report quoted “factually incorrect figures, including the pilot count, thus misleading general public with incorrect data.”

MHRA also called on the government to ensure that Malta retain decision-making authority in any deal Air Malta may reach on the sale of its majority shareholding.

It said in a statement that such control could become critical “when the going gets tough” but it would also be better appreciated by the wider tourism sector in Malta.

Following the result of the UK’s EU referendum, MHRA had commissioned Deloitte to carry out a survey as to the performance of the Malta's tourism industry following the Brexit decision.

The sample sentiment analysis survey indicated that hoteliers and restauranteurs remained confident and positive about the performance of the tourism sector as a whole.

“But the success of the tourism sector cannot and must not be taken for granted as it is very sensitive to political and economic changes that can happen both at a local and international level,” MHRA said.

It said it considered BREXIT the latest development at an international level that could impact the tourism sector, followed closely by safety and security.

“And from a local perspective Air Malta is probably the major challenge that Government is currently facing and decisions on this front definitely have an impact on the future performance of the tourism sector,” MHRA said.

“Let's not take success as some given right. We must all remain focused and seek solutions to ensure that Malta remains successful.”

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