The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

Air Malta delays: Staff place blame on failure to replace plane under maintenance

Helena Grech Thursday, 7 June 2018, 10:30 Last update: about 3 years ago

Air Malta staff, including pilots, have blamed last weekend’s delays and cancellations on gross mismanagement by the senior team at the national airline. Last weekend several flights were severely delayed and some were also cancelled.

Workers who spoke to this newsroom on condition of anonymity said the crux of the issue is complete disorganisation, since the airline knew that a plane they were wet-leasing was scheduled for maintenance two-weeks ago, however when the time came, which as last weekend, they failed to make provisions to replace the plane. Wet-leasing refers to the practice when an airline rents out a plane from another one inclusive of pilots, cabin crew and all staff.

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The situation appeared to become so desperate that the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Paul Sies, actually posted on LinkedIn that he is “Looking for a wet-lease A320/737 or larger for Sunday 3 June to operate 6 sectors from Malta,” asking those with suggestions to send him a private message.

This newsroom sent questions to Air Malta last Monday, following the information received by the airline’s workers and following complaints by passengers of cancellations such as in Venice, Caliagri and Sicily, and severe delays like those flying out of Heathrow last Friday evening.

The Malta Independent asked:

“What caused Air Malta to fail to make arrangements to ensure there were enough planes in its fleet to operate all planned flights? Where passengers who suffered delays granted any compensation? If so, could you provide details?

“Workers are complaining of disorganisation - how do you respond to those claims?  Workers also commented that it looks unprofessional to have the CCO look for a plane publically on Linked In. How do you respond to such criticism?

“Perhaps you wish to provide a statement explaining the course of events?”

At the time of going to print, no replies were forthcoming.

 Just yesterday, another Air Malta flight scheduled for Sicily had to turn back to Malta after just 15 minutes in the air due to technical issues.

Last February, Air Malta announced 13 new routes as part of Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi’s new strategy for the ailing airline. Successive governments have bared the brunt of Air Malta’s shoddy finances made worse by EU state aid rules meaning that government cannot intervene and provide a monetary bail-out. A one-time bail out was approved back in 2012 however that avenue has been exhausted.

Passengers on social media had expressed their unease about the upcoming long weekend with more people expected to travel.  

 

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