Air Malta pilots fear ‘plan B’ airline to fight union actions

Pilots remain concerned about plans to create a sister company to Air Malta that will commission new planes and employ non-unionised pilots 

Pilots remain concerned about plans to create a sister company to Air Malta that will commission new planes and employ non-unionised pilots
Pilots remain concerned about plans to create a sister company to Air Malta that will commission new planes and employ non-unionised pilots

The Air Malta pilots’ union, ALPA, is planning to take industrial action that will start by refusing to train 20 Qatari cadets.

The escalation in tension with Air Malta management stems from the suspension of a pilot, over a sarcastic comment on Facebook on a flight that was delayed by a technical problem originally identified by the union.

Air Malta signed an agreement to train 20 cadet pilots for Qatar Airways as part of a collaboration agreement between both airlines. Qatar Airways will also open a direct route to Malta in the first quarter of 2019.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi had said the 20 cadet pilots employed by Qatar Airways will be building hours on the Air Malta route network, flying with experienced Maltese training captains. Pilots remain concerned about plans to create a sister company to Air Malta that will commission new planes and employ non-unionised pilots.

“It is an Air Malta ‘plan B’ that is meant to fight any crippling industrial action the union takes,” one pilot told MaltaToday.

The union is holding talks to determine what course of action it will take, after it was the Labour Party’s own media arm that publicised the social media comment by identifying the pilot.

ALPA had directed its members not to fly the 9H-AHS aircraft back in April due to the fact that it did not possess a cockpit voice recorder erase button. The action was suspended after Air Malta filed a prohibitory injunction against ALPA.

Nonetheless a technical fault developed on the same aircraft that was at the centre of the dispute meaning it could not operate despite the court order.

This prompted the pilot to joke about how the aircraft had now become his favourite one because it developed a fault and therefore “complied with ALPA’s directive”.

The pilot was suspended after a screenshot of his comment was leaked to the media recently.

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