The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Air Malta sacked pilots without commissioning safety risk assessment – ALPA; airline reacts

Tuesday, 16 June 2020, 11:45 Last update: about 27 days ago

Air Malta's decision to sack pilots and demote captains is illegal because the airline did not commission a Safety Risk Assessment as required, the airline pilots' union said.

Air Malta recently announced that it would be making 69 pilots redundant after failing to reach an agreement with ALPA. Air Malta says pilots need to accept a substantial pay cut in view of the Covid-19 situation and its impact on the airline's finances. The union has managed to temporarily stop the process in court.


ALPA said Air Malta should have commissioned a Safety Risk Assessment in terms of the airline's 'Safety Management System Manual', and as required by Transport Malta's Civil Aviation Directorate.

"This has given rise to a state of illegality leading to newly-demoted pilots being pulled off rosters. Accordingly, Air Malta may only presently deploy around 30 pilots to operate upcoming flights," ALPA said.

The union said the legal responsibility for such irregularity, "as well as the consequences stemming therefrom," will have to be borne by Air Malta CEO Clifford Chetcuti.

"Chetcuti was hand-picked by former Minister Konrad Mizzi, notwithstanding that he lacked previous experience in managing an airline. Before joining Air Malta, he headed Flight Training at Qatar Airways," the union said.

It also insisted that, despite claims by the government that the airline is willing to re-enter negotiations, Air Malta has not approached the union.

"On the contrary, Air Malta's lawyer Dr Galea Cavallazzi, made it very clear in Court on Monday that the Company would not meet ALPA."

The union said it is open to the possibility of meetings being held, but pointed out that the decision to sack the pilots was taken while discussions were still underway and was communicated directly to the pilots.

"These redundancies and demotions have earned Air Malta the top spot in the European Hall of Shame," it said.


Air Malta reacts

Reacting, Air Malta "strongly" denied that its 45-year unblemished safety record is being compromised or diminished in any way.

The airline stated that risk assessments have been conducted and are still being done as the situation evolves.

"Air Malta fails to understand ALPA's rationale, whereby it seems to be persistently doing its utmost to damage the airline's good safety reputation at a time when the industry requires all stakeholders to group together to navigate through this unprecedented storm."

It said airlines around the world have been hit hard because of the pandemic, with thousands of employees having been made redundant, something which Air Malta worked hard with its unions to avoid.

"However, for jobs to be secure whilst safeguarding the company's viability, compromise and goodwill from all staff members is required. Air Malta remains open to discussions in good faith to reach an agreement which will secure sustainability and future viability of the Company whilst securing the maximum number of jobs."



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