Updated | Court upholds injunction preventing pilot union strikes

Tourism Minister vows to safeguard the national carrier and its negotiations with strategic partners

A court has provisionally upheld a warrant of prohibitory injunction filed this afternoon by Air Malta against airline pilots union ALPA, in order to prevent the union from ordering any industrial action "that could impede the company's operations, financial position or effect ongoing negotiations."

The case will be heard on the 22nd July.

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis has said that he would do everything he could to safeguard the national airline and the ongoing negotiations with prospective strategic partners.

He said the injunction was “both legal and symbolic,” in that it was a sign that the government would “defend Air Malta in every possible way, from both the legal and the commercial aspect.”

Air Malta and a team appointed by the minister and led by President Emeritus Dr. George Abela, would continue its discussions with the workers with the aim of finding a reasonable solution that is acceptable to both parties, announced the Tourism Ministry in a statement released after the court's preliminary decree.

ALPA denies media reports on pilot pay figures

Earlier today, ALPA once again denied reports in The Times that pilots’ average take-home pay is currently set at some €93,000 a year.

In a new statement from the executive committee, the union said the figure was factually incorrect, and accused the sources who forwarded the figure of having malicious intent.

“Their sole agenda [is] to put pilots in bad light and jeopardise any upcoming negotiations between ALPA and Air Malta. The average take-home pay for Air Malta pilots is less than the claimed figure and anyone spreading such figures is either misinformed or intends to wilfully mislead the general public,” ALPA said.

The union has denied it has demanded a €50,000 salary increase as reported this week by The Sunday Times.

“ALPA looks forward to the upcoming meetings,” it had said of negotiations with Air Malta management ahead of a possible deal with Alitalia, the Italian national airline part-owned (49%) by the UAE airline Etihad. “ALPA remained prudent, and contrary to the claims made, ALPA never left the negotiating table and intends to continue negotiating on behalf of all its members.”

The Sunday Times stood by its story on Monday, saying that the number of pilots was 122 – 118 of whom were active, two on long sick-leave and two on unpaid leave. The financial demands pilots are making fall broadly into two categories: a 30% increase in the basic salary and guaranteed minimum bonuses.

The increase in the basic salary, which pilots want to be backdated to January 1 this year, would yield an average salary increase per pilot of €28,000 annually to the average €93,000 salary.

The difference to €50,000 comes from changes to the system by which pilots are awarded units every time they fly. These units are translated into monetary bonuses at the end of the month.

The overall package proposed by Alpa would add €6 million to the €11 million Air Malta already pays its pilots. Pilots have threatened to step up industrial action, including flight delays, if their demands are not met.

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association in a statement appealed to the pilots’ union to act with prudence and refrain from short-sighted actions or threats that may lead to damaging the confidence of the tourist travelling to Malta.

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