Current Affairs
Air Malta investigating case of 12 pilots who reported sick – ALPA reacts

The issue has persisted on the great number of Air Malta pilots who are reporting sick, with the airline resuming with its internal investigation on the alleged sickness of pilots which is leading to disruptions in Air Malta’s flights schedule. Twelve out of twenty-four pilots of the national airline, who were scheduled to be on duty today, reported sick. Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said the company needs industrial stability to continue growing, and therefore he appealed for the Pilots Union, ALPA’s cooperation.

On the day that early in the morning Air Malta welcomed the arrival of its third new aircraft in its fleet, the company’s management is once again facing the real or apparent problem of a number of pilots who are reporting sick and failing to report for work – a problem which Air Malta has already faced in recent days and which has disrupted its operations.

On Saturday morning, half of Air Malta’s pilots scheduled to operate Saturday’s flights failed to turn up for work and reported sick.

Air Malta’s chief executive, Clifford Chetcuti, expressed the company’s concern at having a high rate of pilots not reporting for work due to sickness.

“Twelve pilots out of 126 are today reporting sick – this means 10% of the pilots are sick today. We operate some 46 flights in a day with 24 pilots – if twelve are sick in one day, you have the stand-by coverage lost without even starting the day. This is very challenging to keep to the schedule when you have this high percentage of pilots reporting sick”.

Mr Chetcuti added that the company is treating the cases of alleged sickness with seriousness and will send the company’s doctors to examine the pilots to determine the genuineness of the cases.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said the situation is stagnating both flights which are delayed and other operational sectors. He revealed that arrangements were made with another airline to reduce the impact on the operation if the problem persists.

“We have a stand-by aircraft from another company so that it will immediately enter into the operation and we will be able to operate our schedule”.

Minister Mizzi said Air Malta is ready to sign the agreement with ALPA, however the Government is rejecting the request for a €700,000 guarantee for each pilot in the early retirement scheme. He stressed that if no agreement is reached with the pilots, the Government will resume with its plans and look at alternative structures.

“There are different options – the Med Air option, which is a realistic one. Apart from Med Air, other airlines are ready to carry out this operation in partnership with the Maltese Government”.

The developments in Air Malta occurred on the same day of the arrival of the airline’s new Airbus A320 Neo. The aircraft, which carries up to 180 passengers, was built according to specifications requested by Air Malta. This model produces less noise during take-off and landing and is efficient in fuel consumption.

Air Malta Chairman, Charles Mangion, said that other A320 Neo aircraft will arrive in the coming months as part of the five-year fleet renewal plan. The new aircraft made its first passenger-carrying flight on Saturday morning, shortly after its arrival in Malta.

The ALPA Pilots’ Union, whilst not denying that half the number of pilots on duty did not report for work because of illness, stated that these allegations were being made so that the company would conceal what ALPA referred to as incompetence on the management side.

ALPA said in a statement that as far as it was aware, no formal investigation is ongoing to substantiate charges by the company regarding pilots’ sick leave. ALPA has invited Air Malta to carry out an investigation into the reasons why pilots are feeling sick.

Below is Minister Mizzi’s comment:

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