Pilot sickness disrupts customers and Air Malta’s Operations

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Pilot sickness disrupts customers and Air Malta’s OperationsAir Malta said in a statement this evening that “the extraordinarily high level of sickness reported by pilots at Air Malta today has affected over 2,000 passengers, who have experienced either cancellations or flight delays of up to five hours.”

Air Malta again apologises to customers for the inconvenience caused and is working hard to minimise disruptions.

“The costs incurred by Air Malta in just one day are likely to be in excess of Euro 500,000 as a result of extra costs including Denied Boarding Compensation, alternative travel arrangements, refreshments, land transfers and hotel accommodation,” the airline said.

Air Malta said that following comments made earlier in the day, “Air Malta’s management trusts that ALPA’s President, Dominic Azzopardi, will put our customers and the company first – and encourage his union members to fly if fit for duty.”

“This is the most effective way for Mr Azzopardi to demonstrate that the union was not behind what has taken place today as he has claimedm the airline said.

Air Malta said that it is clear that any pilot who is unfit for duty is bound to report sick and not operate a flight. This is well understood in the airline industry.

“However, it is disturbing that nearly 40% of the pilots normally available to operate a day’s flights are ‘sick’. Either Malta has been hit by a sudden epidemic or other forces are at work.”

Air Malta stated that “contrary to ALPA’s assertion, company doctors are performing a medical visit to each pilot who has reported sick to understand which illnesses are in circulation.”

Peter Davies, Air Malta’s CEO stated, “it is hard to understand the thinking behind today’s disruption. Air Malta remains at a critical stage of restructuring and our future has not yet been secured. To disrupt customers, damage tourism to Malta and incur over Euro500,000 in costs in just one day is wholly irresponsible. ‘

“Air Malta’s Restructuring Plan envisages a pilot complement of 110 on a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) basis. The current complement of Air Malta pilots is as per the Re-structuring Agreement as agreed with the EU Commission, the Government of Malta, Air Malta and all the unions involved.

“During the first seven months of the year, Air Malta pilots – Captains and First Officers – flew 56 hours per month on average, slightly higher than in recent years. This is an improvement but it’s still way short of the hours flown by the pilots of competitor airlines which operate close to the 100 hours monthly limit,” the airline said.

Air Malta pointed out that “the number of pilots employed by Air Malta is more than adequate to cover all operations under normal circumstances and with more habitual sickness levels. This data not only confirms that there is no pilot shortage, but actually that there is room for improvement to increase pilot productivity.”

Air Malta said again that it apologises for the disruption and inconvenience to customers and we will do everything to restore normal operations as quickly as possible.

“As yet, Air Malta cannot comment accurately on the state of operations tomorrow as the airline is unable to predict levels of sickness.

“The airline will provide further information as promptly as possible with regular updates on www.airmalta.com and will aim to operate as full a schedule as possible.

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