Air Malta is not looking at becoming a low‐cost cost carrier, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis has told The Malta Independent.
In a speech to the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said various models have to be looked at when it comes to Air Malta, including “legacy and low-cost models.”
Asked whether the possibility of Air Malta becoming a low-cost carrier is being considered, Dr Zammit Lewis said this option is not on the table.
“The model of low-cost airlines is not Air Malta’s model and is not the model we are looking at in the context of the talks with the strategic partner.
“Just like low cost airlines, it is important that all airlines keep their overheads down. It is a competitive sector where every euro spent has to be recovered. In a sense yes, we do have to imitate low-cost carriers when it comes to keeping overheads down,” Dr Zammit Lewis said.
The strategic partner in question is widely believed to be UAE-based Etihad Airways, though Dr Zammit Lewis refused to either confirm or deny this.
A meeting was held on Wednesday between the government, Air Malta’s management and staff about the airline's future prospects, including that of a strategic partnership with another airline.
“As I have already said, I cannot reveal the name of the airline. The negotiations are moving along at a fast pace, we are not going to waste any time.
“The meeting with Air Malta workers was to inform them what is going on and increase communication with them, and also to negotiate the collective agreements that have expired over time.
“It is important to negotiate these collective agreements within the ambit of the talks with the strategic partner. Our aim is to conclude these talks as quickly as possible in order to strengthen Air Malta and make it more commercially viable.
“During negotiations of the new collective agreements, will look at today’s realities and see the challenges that will be faced with the strategic partner. Once again I will say that we will safeguard the conditions of the workers in the ambit of what is being negotiated with the strategic partner.
“The workers’ have a right to more information and we will give them this information in order to remove any uncertainty,” the Tourism Minister said.