Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said today that Air Malta pilots are expecting the impossible from the government.
Mizzi was speaking in a video uploaded on Facebook following industrial action taken by the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), which is resulting in a 30-minute delay on all flights.
Mizzi said that the Nationalist government, in 2012, had given pilots an early retirement scheme, allowing them the possibility to retire at the age of 55 with a €700,000 package. The pilots want the government – that is, the taxpayer – to guarantee that the retirement package is met even if the airline collapses.
“This is not acceptable,” Mizzi said. “We are convinced that Air Malta will continue to exist. We plan to expand it. We are talking with the European Commission regarding investment in Air Malta. We are talking about a new fleet with Airbus. But there is only one way for this to be achieved – and this is that all stakeholders, including ALPA, pull the same rope.”
“We will not give in to blackmail,” Mizzi added. “The government will not give guarantees it cannot meet.”
“I love Air Malta and we will keep it alive but the economy is more important,” he said.
Our strategy is to grow towards north Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, India and northern Europe. For this to happen we need a flexible airline. If Air Malta would not be in a position to grow, we can use another government company, Med Air, for the purpose.
Mizzi said the all necessary steps will be taken to stop “illegal” industrial action.