The Union of national airline Air Malta pilots, ALPA, has ordered its members to delay all Air Malta flights by half an hour from today, the 1st of July. ALPA is threatening this industrial action in view of the awaited guarantee by the Government for an early retirement scheme for its members, wherein each pilot receives € 700,000 at the age of 55 years.
In a statement, Air Malta expressed its disappointment at this industrial action and said that since the signing of the collective agreement at the beginning of last year, Air Malta has been conducting long and difficult discussions with ALPA on interpretations of this agreement and other issues. Air Malta has said it has sought to resolve each issue raised but ALPA has consistently showed a lack of good will to ensure good industrial relations.
The airline, which during the last year has recorded its first operating surplus, added that it still committed to finding a solution to any issue that the union might raise while safeguarding the interests of its customers, its flights’ schedule and the safety of passengers. Air Malta also insisted that the interests of one section of a company cannot threaten the sustainability and the airline’s operations at the expense of the company and its employees. Air Malta stressed that is committed to its operations while working on its plan to improve the routes and frequencies to key centres to further improve its product.
In response, Minister for Tourism Konrad Mizzi said that the government will not give in to the pressure by the ALPA pilots union to provide guarantees for early retirement schemes, which he deemed as ridiculous. He also made it clear that he will not let any personal interests interfere with the national interest and recalled that during the time of a Nationalist Government, Air Malta launched an early retirement scheme for pilots to be able to retire at age 55 with a package of almost 700,000 euros each. He said that now the Pilots’ Unions are claiming that the government should guarantee this package regardless of what happens to Air Malta.
The Minister said that while the Government is committed to Air Malta to be successful, he said he will not deliver any gifts at the expense of the company. “If the pilots must have a guarantee for the future, there is one solution: to work together with the management and the whole team in one direction that leads to the company’s growth and success”, said Dr Mizzi. He said that while the government will ensure that Malta will always have a national airline, it will not accept any threats from anyone.