Air Malta pilots reaping what they sowed, airline tells European Cockpit Association

Air Malta says pilots have ignored reasonable consultation for too long


ir Malta has accused pilots union ALPA of having refused to discuss the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the airline, by repeatedly dismissing offers to reach an agreement.

In a reaction to a statement from the European Cockpit Association, Air Malta said ALPA had refused to discuss a sustainable offer that would have safeguarded the employment of its members.

Air Malta has made redundant over 100 pilots after ALPA refused to discuss a €1,200 monthly salary in a bid to reduce the impact of the pandemic’s ‘zero-revenue’ situation on the airline, whose flights have been grounded.

“ALPA’s attempted display of force, seeking to leverage the company into paying pilots more than other employees in a time of virtually zero revenues is appalling. During times of crisis it comes without saying that all stakeholders should be cooperating to safeguard the survival and long-term viability of the airline, not personal interest,” the airline said.

It also noted ALPA’s attempt to compare proposed salary cuts with European airlines, saying that the union has always refuted such comparisons when asked to fly longer hours and at par with counterparts.

The airline pointed out to the ECA that it had already requested “meaningful consultation” with ALPA but that it was ignored.

“Pilots should not feel entitled to be paid more than other employees, in a situation where its members are at home with absolutely no work and the company is facing economic hardship. While temporary arrangements are necessary to deal with the ongoing crisis, the union has clearly shown that it will leverage its position when presented with the opportunity,” the airline said.

During collective agreement discussions held in 2017, Air Malta had balked at contract and work conditions demanded by ALPA that were much higher than what European counterparts got.

The union had registered an industrial dispute, threatening a strike at a time of record-breaking tourist arrivals in Malta.

Under the current collective agreement, an Air Malta pilot receives an average €212 per hour rate, while those at Ryanair are paid €142/hr, at British Airways €177/hr, at Virgin €196/hr and those at Easyjet are paid €200/hr.

Air Malta pilots fly an average of 660 hours a year whilst those at British Airways and Ryanair fly 820 and 840 hours respectively, an average of 200 hours more for a smaller hourly rate.

Air Malta pilots also enjoy a take-home pay guarantee scheme, ensuring they get an annual minimum pay equal to the best pay from the previous three years.

MaltaToday has also revealed that Air Malta pilots can retire at 55 years of age requesting the company to pay out approximately €680,000 as a lump sum, or 70% of their pay each year up to age 65. Pilots at British Airways have a retirement scheme starting at 59 years of age, with an approximate 20% to 30% pay up to the age of 63.

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