Air Malta signs agreement with government for reduced fares for medical travel
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Air Malta has signed an agreement with the Government whereby the national airline will offer reduced air fares for patients requiring medical treatment abroad. The agreement was signed by Air Malta’s Chief Executive, Joe Cappello and Dr. Kenneth Grech, Permanent Secretary within the Department of Health during a press conference at the airline’s Head Office.
Through this agreement Air Malta will not only reduce its air fares for patients requiring medical treatment in the UK, but will also be waiving most of the ticketing conditions usually applicable for public travel thus giving patients and Government more flexibility in booking air tickets.
As a result of this agreement, the government will be extending its medical travel airfare sponsorship policy to apply to all patients under the age of 18 years plus an accompanying person. Subsequently, a broader number of patients will benefit from the government’s sponsorship. It is expected that 500 patients together with an accompanying relative will benefit from this arrangement. This policy review has only been possible as a result of Air Malta’s agreement to the new reduced fare structure.
The Minister of Finance, Economy and Investment, Tonio Fenech, responsible for Air Malta said, "Over its 35 year history Air Malta transported over 38 million passengers to and from the Maltese islands. Today over 2 million passengers every year fly Air Malta and over 55% of tourists who visit our islands choose our National Airline. Air Malta plays an important role in attaining Government’s vision that by 2015, Malta will excel in six specific areas of our economy: Information and communication technology, financial services, tourism, higher education, health and the manufacturing industry. To attain these aims Malta will need a strong national carrier that portrays Malta’s commitment towards excellence and provides the links to support the growth of these sectors."
"Government is proud with the services that Air Malta offers to the country and with the commitment that it has shown in the social and humanitarian fields towards the community. Apart from having successfully competed with various international airlines much larger than itself, Air Malta has managed to find the right balance between its commercial considerations and its social commitment towards the Maltese public. The agreement that we are signing today is a tangible proof of this commitment," said Minister Fenech.
Speaking at the signing of the agreement, Dr. Joe Cassar is Minister for Health, Elderly and Community Care, said, "On behalf of the Maltese people, I thank Air Malta for all its past and future assistance and for helping the Government to facilitate and support all those patients requiring medical treatment abroad and their families. If it was not for Air Malta who provides the service, the Government would have to seek other more complicated and expensive ways to transport these patients. Till now, government was sponsoring airfares of patients under 6 years of age and an accompanying person who passes through the means test, the rest would have had to pay the commercial rates themselves. Through this agreement we have not only reduced substantially the financial burdens that patients have when travelling abroad, but since the scheme is now open to include patients till under the age of 18 years, many more patients will now be benefitting from this arrangement."
Commenting on this agreement, Lawrence Zammit, Chairman of Air Malta said, "Air Malta has always been at the forefront of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives especially towards those patients requiring medical treatment in the UK. This agreement is a tangible proof of the airline’s social obligations towards Malta and the Maltese. Air Malta is the only airline that assists patients who require medical treatment abroad by offering special fares. In addition, we are the only airline operating from Malta that make arrangements for stretcher cases, invested heavily in the installation of special equipment to be able to transport an aviation approved baby incubator for infants who require travel abroad for treatment, and also provide onboard oxygen to patients free of charge. It is estimated that every year Air Malta invests over EUR 300,000 in assistance to the community be it cultural, social, philanthropic, humanitarian, environmental, heritage or sports."
"Air Malta promises that it will strive to continue to meet and exceed its social commitment towards the Maltese people," concluded Mr Zammit.
During 2009, the National Airline carried on board its aircraft 4 incubator cases, 26 stretcher cases and 81 oxygen cases. To set up an incubator or a stretcher onboard the aircraft a total of 9 seats have to be removed or blocked thus remain unsold. Such assistance carries with it a dual commitment; towards the patients and the Maltese community in general.
Air Malta is also actively involved in helping various philanthropic associations including the Malta Community Chest Fund, id-Dar tal-Providenza, Caritas, Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, the Hospice Movement, Breast Care Support Group, Ghana Mission Fund and Puttinu Cares amongst others. The airline is also very active towards helping the environment and recently donated over 200 trees to the Luqa St Andrews Football club, 350 olive trees to the Koperattiva Rurali Manikata and several hundred trees to the Tree 4U national campaign that were planted at the Ta’ Qali and Salini parks. To celebrate its 35th anniversary Air Malta had also organised a day trip to Lourdes for patients of the Hospice Movement and Puttinu Cares.