Update 2 | Industrial action settled as suspension of Air Malta crew is lifted

The airline said that its investigations had found no breaches of safety procedures on flight from Milan 

Air Malta has suspended its staff on a Sunday flight pending an investigation
Air Malta has suspended its staff on a Sunday flight pending an investigation

Industrial actions announced earlier today by Air Malta cabin crew union have been lifted, according to a statement issued by the airline, which also announced that it had concluded its investigation a into claims that the airline’s safety standards.

“Air Malta and the Union of Cabin Crew (UCC) are pleased to announce that industrial actions have been lifted. The airline’s operations will return to normal with immediate effect,” read a company statement.

It added that the management was pleased with the understanding and cooperation shown by the union which intervened during the industrial action to ensure that flight KM102, which had an urgent medical case on board, departed on-time.

Earlier today, Union of Cabin Crew (UCC) President Noel Mercieca told MaltaToday that the industrial action was announced because of breaches in the cabin crew’s collective agreement by the company. The breaches mainly related to the replacement of staff who are on leave or sick leave.

The strike announcement stunned the airline’s management, with CEO Joe Galea expressing his surprise and disappointment at the fact that the UCC had not informed the company of their intention to hold industrial action. He said the management had found out through news reports and could not understand why the UCC had opted to go to the media first, especially when considering that a meeting between the union and the management had already been scheduled to take place a few hours later.

This morning, a video was uploaded to The Malta Independent portal, showing passengers playing music and singing through an aircraft’s public address system (PA) on flight from Milan to Malta on Sunday. It was alleged that a security breach had taken place on board the aircraft and that passengers had “taken over the PA system.” The airline reacted to the report immediately, announcing that it would be suspending the crew operating the flight.

Asked whether the suspensions were related to the industrial action, Galea said he believed that it was unrelated.

Following an investigation into the matter, it transpired that Air Malta had been informed that one of its passengers would be celebrating his birthday, with the company deciding to offer the passenger a cake, said an Air Malta spokesman. He added that it was not the first time this has happened.

The airline said that the investigation showed that at no point in time did passengers take over the inflight public address system to party with their friends, as had been suggested.

“From its investigation, Air Malta management have concluded that there was no breach of safety procedures. The events took place in a controlled manner and the crew’s intention was to fully please our passengers within safety and operational procedures. Air Malta’s employees are ready to go the extra mile to ensure a unique customer experience,” the airline said.

It said that in view of this, the temporary suspension had been lifted. 

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