The Malta Independent 8 December 2019, Sunday

Ryanair strike: airline still to provide information to MIA

Jeremy Micallef Friday, 9 August 2019, 08:09 Last update: about 5 months ago

Ryanair is still to provide information on the potential repercussions of the airline’s UK-based pilot’s strike on Malta International Airport (MIA), an airport spokesperson said.

Members of the British Airline Pilots Association voted by a ratio of 4-to-1 in favor of the strikes set for 22 to 23 August and between 2 ands 4 September for the UK-based Ryanair pilots.

The MIA spokesperson went on to explain that due to the lack of information provided by the low-cost airline, it is “still too early to say whether we will be affected and how”.

Ryanair is the leading airline, imn terms of passenger numbers, in Malta. With 2,449,915 passengers in 2018, it bettered Air Malta’s 2,034,472 passengers.

The British Airline Pilots Association, meanwhile, says the dispute involves pensions, loss of license insurance, maternity benefits, allowances, and pay.

Brian Strutton, the union's general secretary, said Wednesday that pilots don't want to disrupt passengers' travel plans, but "at the moment it seems we have no choice" because Ryanair hasn't made a formal offer to resolve the dispute.

A Ryanair spokesman says many of the airline's pilots aren't members of the union and that union members "have no mandate to disrupt our customers' holidays and flights."

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has told staff to prepare for as many as 900 job cuts as he warned that the Irish budget airline’s expansion plans would be slowed dramatically following the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

O’Leary said in a video message to employees that Ryanair had an excess of more than 500 pilots and about 400 cabin crew. On top of that, he said, the airline would reportedly need 600 fewer people in those roles next summer than it had planned for before the worldwide grounding of the Max aircraft following two fatal crashes.


Ryanair in Malta

Ryanair recently came into an agreement with Malta, whereby the new Malta-based airline Malta Air will be operated, and owned, by Ryanair, and will fly to over 60 destinations in 21 countries across Europe and North Africa but will not, according to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, clash with the operations of national airline Air Malta.

Malta Air will initially have a fleet of six Boeing 737 aircraft based in Malta, but this will increase to ten aircraft within the next three years, an investment in the region of $1 billion. The airline will initially employ 200 personnel, but this number is expected to increase to 350 personnel within three years. As part of the agreement, 50 Ryanair aircraft will also be registered in Malta’s jurisdiction and hence take the 9H registration code.

“Today’s agreement will take travel and tourism to the next level”, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said at the launch of the airline. Mizzi noted that although one may think that Malta Air would clash with Air Malta, this would not be the case as the two airlines will complement each other – with Malta Air taking on Ryanair’s current low-cost routes and Air Malta continuing in its emphasis on cargo routes, medium-haul routes, and routes to key hubs such as Frankfurt and London’s Heathrow airport.

The fleet will increase to 10 within three years and 350 more jobs will be created.

Ryanair will also brand its Malta-based fleet in Malta Air colours for summer 2020.

Asked by the Malta Independent what guarantee there was that the routes of the two airlines did not eventually clash, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said that “there’s never a guarantee, but it’s unlikely”.

“If you look at routes that Air Malta serves, they are generally routes that Ryanair has not served or is not interested in serving”, O’Leary said before noting that Ryanair flies to around 240 airports at the moment so the potential to grow the current 60 routes on offer is huge.

“None of those would ever have to cross over the existing routes that are operated by Air Malta”, O’Leary said before noting that Ryanair would like to see Air Malta strengthen itself as an airline.

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