PILOT STRIKE AT AIR MALTA THREATENS ITS SURVIVAL

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore July 6, 2011 14:03

PILOT STRIKE AT AIR MALTA THREATENS ITS SURVIVAL

Air Malta pilots have voted overwhelmingly to strike following the news that 57 pilots have been earmarked for redundancy as part of its restructuring plan. The Airline Pilots’ Association is threatening to suspend the service and ground aircraft on July 16. The union is also planning to hold a demonstration in the capital Valletta the day before the strike and has passed a motion of no confidence in the Air Malta management.

Association president Domenic Azzopardi said: “The members have voted in favour of the idea of suspending the service, so we can call this action as early as tomorrow. But we will definitely not do it before the 16th,”
The union wants Air Malta to renegotiate contracts that are costing the company heavily, in particular those involving Malta International Airport.

Talks are continuing between pilots’ representatives and Air Malta, but the strike action has been condemned by the Finance Ministry, which warned the action “threatens the very existence of the company”.

“The €52 million loan to Air Malta approved by Parliament this year is close to being exhausted and further financial loss, caused by industrial action, will push the company towards bankruptcy,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

A bankruptcy would mean all 1,300 employees losing their jobs rather than the 511 suggested in the restructuring plan. The ministry also stressed that the pilots’ association was represented at the meetings of the airline’s restructuring committee so it should already be fully aware that Air Malta’s future depends on the plan being approved by the European Commission.

The GWU is meeting with Air Malta tomorrow to understand how the restructuring plan requires the loss of 511employees and after that meeting it will announce whether it will join the pilots’ strike action.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore July 6, 2011 14:03
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