'Harsh measures still possible,' tourism minister warns Air Malta pilots

Edward Zammit Lewis says Air Malta could implement harsher commercial and legal measures if threatened by further action, following the declaration by the Airline Pilots Association that it would not wait till 31 August for further talks

Air Malta would be forced to implement harsher commercial and legal measures should any actions threaten to jeopardise its future, tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis warned.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the tourism ministry said the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) should use common sense and not be disproportionate in its actions against Air Malta, else it endanger the jobs of all the airline’s workers.

The ministry referred specifically to the union’s declaration that the two sides should not wait till 31 August to meet again, as suggested earlier by the airline.

“The minister encourages the union to ensure that pique and a lack of common sense not lead to the loss of livelihood for all the workers at the airline and others within the tourism industry,” the statement read.

Zammit Lewis felt that the pilots’ refusal to wait till 31 August to meet Air Malta again for more talks, was exaggerated and lacked any common sense, particularly since the airline was still in delicate talks with Alitalia for the sale of 49% of its shares.

The minister told ALPA any further pressure on Air Malta would be futile and said he was disappointed the union had opted for useless tactics instead of offering its full cooperation to safeguard the future of the national airline.

Zammit Lewis said he expected ALPA to accept the invitation to participate in the 31 August meeting, where the union would be given final details on the airline’s future business plan.

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