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MALTATODAY 7 August 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 7 AUGUST 2022 NEWS Living is Learning! Book your course now. Choose from more than 70 subjects, online or in class. Apply on , at all Local Councils, all hubs or call 153 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 The applications were more than the government was ex- pecting. Air Malta Executive Chair- man David Curmi has told MaltaToday that a final dead- line has yet to be decided and the company is in discussions with the unions. Sources who spoke to this newspaper said Air Malta met with union representatives last Friday. "The company, together with its shareholders, has decided to accept all the transfer re- quests," Curmi said. He con- ceded that the original dead- line set by the government may have been too optimistic. "The deadline may have been optimistic, but yes, after meet- ing the unions in the coming weeks, we will be coming out with a final deadline," Curmi said. Asked for the reason behind the deadline postponement, he said the issue is not having enough workers to keep opera- tions running smoothly. "There are people who are crucial for the airline's opera- tions, and so we need to make sure they are properly re- placed," he said. Curmi said the transfer scheme is a "complicated pro- cess", but insisted that the re- structuring exercise will not be affected. The Air Malta chairman also insisted there is "no agenda" behind the delay, "unlike what is being suggested by certain sections of the media". Questions sent to Finance Minister Clyde Caruana have remained unanswered. Employees at the airline who spoke to MaltaToday on con- dition of anonymity said that a lack of ground handling staff has prompted the airline to of- fer office workers the oppor- tunity to work extra hours as ground handlers. Office workers have been of- fered an attractive overtime rate at €22 per hour and those who have expressed an inter- est will undergo a course on ground handling operations on Tuesday. The travel industry has seen an upsurge in demand over the past few months since COV- ID-19 restrictions were lifted. This includes Air Malta, which is one of the principal carriers operating to and from Malta International Airport. However, Air Malta is under- going a restructuring process after posting significant losses that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic. Government has been seeking EU approval to provide the airline with state aid, a process that has not yet concluded. During a press conference announcing the reforms last January, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana had said the restructuring plan also calls for new collective agreements to include more worker flexi- bility to allow the airline to fly between different airports that do not include Malta. These collective agreements had to be concluded by June. In a press conference last June, Prime Minister Robert Abela had said employees impacted by the airline's restructuring will be given their new public service posts by mid-August. However, employees are still in the dark about their future. Apart from the airline not wanting to disrupt its opera- tions, reports have suggested that the comparatively good salaries employees enjoy at the airline present a stumbling block to their redeployment to the public service. "The deadline may have been optimistic, but yes, after meeting the unions in the coming weeks, we will be coming out with a final deadline," Curmi said Air Malta CEO David Curmi says airline needs staff for day-to-day operations Air Malta CEO David Curmi

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