[WATCH] ‘Air Malta pilots must remember that airline is struggling to remain viable’

Tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis insists that Air Malta pilots must take into consideration national airline's situation as it strives to achieve turnaround

Tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis
Tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis
Tourism minister compares Airmalta pilots to the airline

Tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis has not disputed reports in the press that Air Malta pilots had demanded an average salary increase of €50,000, as the national airline continues talks with Alitalia for the acquisition of a 49% minority stake.

“The pilots made their demands, Air Malta took them into consideration. They have their numbers and I rely on those numbers,” Zammit Lewis said.

Zammit Lewis said that he would like Air Malta pilots to receive a raise, but said that there are other factors to consider.

“I wish that the pilots could have a better salary than they have at the moment, but they must consider that [the airline] is just coming out of a restructuring project, that the company is struggling to remain viable, and that the government … is thinking of the long-term commercial viability [of the national airline].”

The minister said he was willing to discuss issues that concerned the pilots, but said that he also compared the work done by pilots for Air Malta and that of other airlines, and insisted on increasing productivity before considering their working conditions.

“Better working conditions are to be discussed, and gladly, but first there must be an increase in productivity – because when comparing salaries to those of other pilots, one must consider the work done by Air Malta pilots to that of pilots from other airlines. Then we will have a look at their working conditions together with good-willed people.”

Zammit Lewis condemned any form of industrial action, citing other tourism bodies in their assertion of the damage it can cause to the tourism industry.

“Any industrial action at the moment is out of place and dangerous. What is certain is that industrial action right now will impede Air Malta and affects tourism in its most sensitive period when tourism operators can make the most profit, as already said by the Gozo Tourism Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the MHRA.”

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