The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

No communication between Air Malta, pilots' union since Friday – sources

Jeremy Micallef Thursday, 11 July 2019, 08:55 Last update: about 11 days ago

There has been no communication between Air Malta and the Association of Pilots (APLA) for discussion since Friday, and it is suspected that this is because the court case is still ongoing, sources speaking with this newspaper said yesterday.

The situation between ALPA and Air Malta reached a critical point last week when a Court hearing on the industrial dispute between the airline and the pilots’ representative body, after which ALPA was accused of a “cover-up” and Air Malta was accused of “threats and intimidation”.

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It is unclear what the main issue seems to be as Air Malta claims that this action is a consequence to the Government of Malta, Air Malta’s major shareholder, declining the request to guarantee the pilots’ early retirement scheme pay-out, which sees individual pilots getting some €700,000 each at age 55.

On the other hand, ALPA claims that Air Malta seems intent on distorting indisputable facts, as well as painting a false and unclear picture of the prevalent and current state of affairs.

The pilots have also said that they have, “on many occasions, unwillingly agreed to forego their legal rights and entitlement when faced with threats and intimidation by the airline’s management”.

This, they said, is what led to them resorting to industrial action in response to the management’s numerous attempts to deploy crew illegally against the stipulated procedures, as well as in response to the company’s persistent failure to address concerns relating to the safety and well-being of its members.

ALPA declared that, pursuant to the filing of an application by Air Malta p.l.c for the issue of a warrant of prohibitory injunction, which was thereafter acceded to by the Courts of Justice on a provisional basis, our Association has temporarily withdrawn industrial action until a ruling is delivered in relation to the merits thereof in order to let justice take its course.

ALPA, however, argued that this was not the main issue. ALPA had said that “Air Malta seems intent on distorting indisputable facts, as well as painting a false and unclear picture of the prevalent and current state of affairs. It is now clear that Air Malta’s management team has decided to resort to half-truths and measures, as well as to blatant and capricious lies, in order to cover the ineptitude and mismanagement which has become prevalent within the higher tiers of the company,” ALPA said.

Sources had added that pilots had put aside a number of issues prior to discussions breaking down, including on over 500 off and leave days which pilots were not given last year, which they might be getting paid for instead of being able to take.

The court heard submissions by both Air Malta and ALPA on Friday in a case regarding a warrant of prohibitory injunction filed by the company against its pilots over a set of directives issued by the union.

After the directives were issued, Air Malta had filed an application requesting the court to stop ALPA and its members from taking any further action which it described as "illegal" and "prejudicial to the company and its rights".

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