“Unions not considerate and sensitive”; Airmalta to lay off 108 pilots

ALPA willing to commence meaningful discussions

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The extraordinary amount of cancellations, and therefore reimbursements, together with the obligation to continue servicing fixed costs, such as aircraft lease payments, have led the company to necessitate mitigation of costs, including payroll costs,” said AirMalta in a statement.

On Wednesday it was reported that the Maltese national airline wants to lay off 108 pilots as no agreement was reached with the union on how to reduce payroll costs. AirMalta has around 134 pilots.

The airline said that the COVID-19 outbreak has substantially affected the Company with a mere 2 flights per day as opposed to the scheduled average of 20 daily flights.

AirMalta said that it offered unions representing different sections of company employees, to agree on a minimum floor of the average pay of the last twelve months, capped at €1200, as basic monthly income which would be applicable for all those on indefinite and definite contracts, meaning that all employees, including staff at head office,  engineers, cabin crew, and pilots would get a minimum income of €1200 monthly even if they are not required to operate and stay at home. 

According to the airline through the agreement, even those employed on a definite contract would also have been retained in employment. AirMalta said that they offered compensation for actual work performed would (in terms of the applicable collective agreement) result in compensation in excess of €1200 in a month, they would be remunerated on the basis of the actual amount due in terms of the applicable collective agreement for the work performed.  

Unions do not accept the agreement

The company said it is disappointed that the unions were not considerate and sensitive enough to its very hard financial situation when the aviation industry is facing the worst crisis in its history.

It was only the engineers union which accepted the proposal through a 90% vote by its members.  

The Union of Cabin Crew (UCC) did not accept the company’s offer.

ALPA, the union representing the pilots did not reply to the company’s offer insisting that the airline makes further counter offers, said AirMalta.

As a result, the company announced that a number of employees falling under the collective agreement signed with the UCC and ALPA will be made redundant due to the current circumstances and the failure to reach an agreement with the same unions.

Air Malta has 333 employees who fall under the collective agreement signed with the Union of Cabin Crew.  Of these, 188 are on an indefinite term contract, while 145 are on a fixed-term contract.

Employees on a fixed-term contract have already been notified that their employment will not be extended following the expiry of its current term. 

Apart from this, the company requires another 139 cabin crew who are on an indefinite term contract to be made redundant. 

The company also employs 134 employees who fall under the collective agreement signed with ALPA, all engaged through an indefinite term contract.  The company requires 108 Pilots to be made redundant.   

The employees retained will be sufficient for Air Malta to continue operating at current levels which are expected to be the case for a number of months.

Air Malta said that the top management has already accepted a significant pay cut in their salaries as well as the removal of allowances and perks.

ALPA willing to commence meaningful discussions

The Airline Pilots Association said that contrary to media assertions in recent days, ALPA has not refused any proposals which would require sacrifices from its members, resulting from the COVID-19 situation. However, ALPA insists that the burden of the current situation must be borne equally by all employees from the very top to the bottom.

“ALPA is willing to carry its fair share of the burden, after ensuring that the process of meaningful and effective consultation has been duly carried out. Air Malta resorted to informing the DIER about redundancies without effectively exploring other possible avenues and instead presenting ALPA with a ‘fait accompli’”, said the association.

ALPA said that AirMalta CEO Clifford Chetcuti, has lost his opportunity to come clean and tell his workforce upfront about his salary cuts and perks and that this is creating undercurrents within the workforce and is raising suspicion.

ALPA urges the CEO Mr Clifford Chetcuti to come clean about his percentage pay cut from his alleged €300,000 salary excluding perks.

ALPA also said it demands answers as to management’s pay cuts to ensure fairness across the board and insist that management should lead by example.