Finance minister to brief unions on Air Malta

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana summons unions to a meeting on Air Malta as talks with the European Commission over a State aid package appear to have closed


Finance Minister Clyde Caruana is expected to brief unions later this week on the way forward for Air Malta.

Government has been locked in talks with the European Commission for almost a year to seek approval for a State aid package for the national airline in the wake of significant losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports had suggested the government wanted to pump €290 million in the ailing airline but Caruana never confirmed the amount.

Industry sources told sister newspaper MaltaToday that Caruana summoned the four unions represented at Air Malta for a meeting on Friday. The agenda was not communicated but it is expected the minister will unveil details of what was negotiated with the commission.

Sources have suggested the commission has only agreed to green-light a fraction of the sum proposed by the government.

Caruana would neither confirm nor deny the claims that the commission only accepted a reduced State aid package.

Last November, Caruana told parliament the national airline burnt through €435 million over the past 15 years. The few profits made along the years were the result of sold assets, he said, adding this was not sustainable.

Any state aid would have to be accompanied by a reform programme. A similar package for Air Malta agreed with the Commission in 2012 resulted in job cuts and reduced routes.

PN calls for clear direction

The Nationalist Party has called on government to be clear on the situation at the national airline.

“The government’s silence and concealment instead of a dialogue has now reached great absurdity,” spokesperson Mario de Marco said.

It said the government has excluded everyone from the process of saving Air Malta. “The Nationalist Party expresses full solidarity with workers who are being kept in the dark.”

It said Prime Minister Robert Abela should not postpone government decision for after the general election.

“The Opposition calls on the Finance Minister to refer as soon as possible to Parliament on the situation,” it said.

More in Business