The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Update: Chamber urges Air Malta, pilots to keep a realistic view of matters; Tourism Minister reacts

Tuesday, 12 July 2016, 14:33 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry today called on all parties involved to act with utmost responsibility in order to avoid any negative repercussions on the successful privatisation process of Air Malta and more importantly on the economy in general.

Threats of industrial action, during the single most important period for the airline, certainly does no justice to anyone’s cause and is seen as most irresponsible, the chamber said in a statement.

Risking to ground the airline, at this sensitive time, would not only paralyse the country’s connectivity at the height of the tourism season putting hundreds of jobs linked to the tourism sector at risk, but would also endanger the health of the economy at large.

The Chamber has always underlined the strategic importance of Air Malta to all of the country’s economy. The intimate relation between the tourism industry and Air Malta is abundantly clear and every effort must be done in order to safeguard Malta’s largest industry, right in the middle of its peak season. However, Air Malta is also crucial for a number of other sectors such as manufacturing, amongst others, which are completely reliant on timely and reliable supply of components and raw materials for their competitive operation. The national airline plays a pivotal role in this equation.

All parties involved need to put the national interest and the long-term interest of the airline as their one and only priority.

Parties need to keep a realistic view of matters at hand, and look at the broader picture, in order to avoid unnecessary collateral damage to innocent parties and preserve the long standing reputation of the airline and its key role in the country’s economy.

The Airline Pilots Association has had a court injunction filed against them by Air Malta in an attempt to stop the industrial action being threatened by ALPA which could potentially affect negotiations with Alitalia. The injunction was filed earlier today and upheld by Mr Justice Silvio Meli to be heard on 22 July.

Air Malta pilots are currently on a form of ‘dress down’ strike, showing up for work without jacket and cap, as they demand better working conditions and pay. According to The Times the pilots were demanding an average increase of €50,000 each in their take-home pay, but the ALPA President Mr Dominic Azzopardi disputed the figures.

In reaction, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis insisted that he will do everything in his power to ensure that the national airline is safeguarded. "This warrant is as much a legal action as it is a symbolic one. We need to give a signal that we will defend Air Malta in every possible way, both from a legal perspective and a commercial one, and this warrant is the last action which we can take to exhaust all legal positions that we have at our disposition," Zammit Lewis said.

Air Malta and the entire team appointed by the Minister and led by President Emeritus Dr George Abela will keep working and discussing with the workers so that mutually acceptable agreement will be reached.


 

 

 

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