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MALTATODAY 12 December 2021

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16 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 12 DECEMBER 2021 NICOLE MEILAK PILOTS rate Air Malta higher than Malta Air for its working conditions, work-life balance and contractual arrangements, but both airlines leave more to be de- sired in social responsibility. The European Cockpit Asso- ciation contacted pilots from across Europe to rate the airlines they work for and determine the working conditions at each com- pany. Air Malta beats its counterpart Malta Air on the social scale, offering quality contractual ar- rangements and a stable em- ployment model, according to a survey by pilots lobby European Cockpit Association. However, Malta Air fares bet- ter on collective bargaining and work-life balance, albeit by a small amount. Air Malta is the overall high-scorer between the two, with a social rating of 61. Malta Air falls close behind with a 55 rating. However, both fall behind com- pared to many of their European counterparts. A third of all air- lines achieved a 'Social Excel- lence' rating between 80-100, of- fering stable working conditions and general job satisfaction. These airlines include Air France, which tops the list, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Malta falls on the tail end of the 'Social Partner' category, which incorporates all airlines with a rating between 60-79. Malta Air is considered a 'Social Snail', doing well in some aspects while under-performing in oth- ers. Malta Air and job redundancies In 2019, Ryanair launched the subsidiary airline Malta Air with a fleet of six aircraft. The airline was set to take 62 Ryanair routes that operated out of Malta, while registering over 50 other aircraft to Malta's aircraft register. However, a group of around 60 cabin crew and pilots working for the company were threatened to be made redundant in a cost-cut- ting effort amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Employees were offered a 10% salary cut for the next five years as projections showed the com- pany was unable to recover from the pandemic in the short-term. The redundancies were eventu- ally put off when the pilots agreed to the pay cuts. On the other hand, Malta Air failed to reach an emergency agreement with its cabin crew workers, resulting in the loss of 40 employees. According to the airline, the agreement would have included modest pay cuts, to be restored over four years, along with a min- imum pay guarantee and three- year review. On behalf of the cabin crew workers, the General Workers Union claimed that the compa- ny was not willing to guarantee that no redundancies would take place during this period. Air Malta and industrial disputes Meanwhile, Air Malta had to make 108 pilots from its staff of 134 redundant, after the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) re- fused to take a pay cut of €1,200 a month after the COVID-19 pan- demic forced the grounding of all flights in April 2020. Pilots were refusing to accede to the pay cut, claiming their sal- aries had already been cut by 30% due to reduced flying hours af- fecting their performance-based pay. Pilots' average gross salaries are €140,000 for captains, and €80,000 for first officers. Even without flying, pilots are left with substantial salaries that do not reflect the state of the shuttered airline right now. The effects of the redundancies will be radical for the airline, due to legal obligations safeguarding pilots' salaries in generous collec- tive agreements they negotiated in the last years. The European Cockpit Associ- ation, the group behind the sat- isfaction survey, had written to Prime Minister Robert Abela to express "deep concerns" on the Air Malta redundancies. The lobby group compared Air Malta's decision unfavourably to that taken by other airlines. It noted that the majority of airlines in Europe reached job retention agreements with their pilots so that they can take their duties as soon as operations resume. Air Malta now finds itself in financial shambles, with govern- ment looking to secure state aid. Under EU rules, state aid is strictly only possible for airlines which registered losses due to the pandemic. If Air Malta was insolvent before COVID-19 hit, it might not qualify for State aid. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will allow the gov- ernment to state its case, even though Air Malta itself has not yet resolved its own operational issues. Thank you... for having bought this newspaper The good news is that we're not raising the price of our newspaper We know times are still hard, but we have pledged to keep giving our readers quality news they deserve, without making you pay more for it. So thank you, for making it your MaltaToday Support your favourite newspaper with a special offer on online PDF subscriptions. Visit or scan the QR code Subscriptions can be done online on Same-day delivery at €1 for orders up to 5 newspapers per address. Subscribe from €1.15 a week Same-day print delivery from Miller Distributors mt Air Malta out-ranks Malta Air in working conditions, pilot satisfaction

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