PN bases its Malta on fou Plan for Air r prin­ci­ples

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Na­tion­al­ist Party yes­ter­day elab­o­rated on its plan for Air Malta, bas­ing their ideas around four prin­ci­ples.

Ad­dress­ing the me­dia, PN MP Clau­dio Grech said that there is no magic wand that solves Air Malta’s prob­lems eas­ily. He said the Air Malta sit­u­a­tion is more dif­fi­cult than that of other air­lines be­cause of its small fleet.

“It seems that there are is­sues sur­round­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Al­i­talia, who ear­lier this year showed an in­ter­est in tak­ing over 49% of Air Malta shares.

“But, soon af­ter a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing was signed, Al­i­talia chair­man Luca di Mon­teze­molo said that the Ital­ian air­line will not in­vest a sin­gle euro into Air Malta. I think ev­ery­one re­alised that this re­la­tion­ship did not be­gin on the right foot­ing”.

He said the PN ad­dressed the is­sue with sum­mer.

“We lis­tened and dis­cussed the ba­sis of a pro­posal through which, us­ing lo­cal cap­i­tal, Air Malta can con­tinue grow­ing and suc­ceed in the re­al­is­tic cir­cum­stances of the air­line.

“We dis­cussed our pro­pos­als and why lo­cal in­vest­ment makes sense. Air Malta over the past years saw €230 mil­lion of tax­pay­ers’ money in­vested. This time last year, when Air Malta pub­lished its half-yearly re­sults, it used the ti­tle – ’Air Malta on track for re­gain­ing prof­itabil­ity’. The air­line pro­jected a loss of just €4 mil­lion by March 2016.

“If these pos­i­tive trends con­tinue and if no ma­jor set­backs are seen, we will exit the re­struc­tur­ing pro­gramme with a loss of €4 mil­lion,” he said. stake­hold­ers dur­ing

“This year, Air Malta is sup­posed to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a re­duc­tion in fuel costs, due to hedg­ing agree­ments, and from this year, Air Malta will be­gin re­duc­ing its costs re­gard­ing plane leases, as the agree­ment closes this year”.

The PN’s plan for Air Malta, he said, is based on four prin­ci­ples.

The first prin­ci­ple

The first prin­ci­ple is that the air­line must con­tinue look­ing for a strate­gic part­ner, but this does not nec­es­sar­ily need to be through trans­fer­ring of shares, which would re­sult in trans­fer­ring strate­gic con­trol.

The sec­ond prin­ci­ple

There is agree­ment that govern­ment takes on past li­a­bil­i­ties, Mr Grech said, and the PN be­lieves that the govern­ment must in­tro­duce the ba­sis of a share­hold­ing based on the fol­low­ing three phases.

Firstly, there should be in­vest­ment from lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions and agen­cies, through a trans­par­ent process that does not al­low any lo­cal pri­vate ac­tivist to hold more than a 10% share­hold­ing.

He said that any­one who in­vests must have a lock-in obli­ga­tion of a sub­stan­tial pe­riod in or­der to avoid share spec­u­la­tion, avoid­ing peo­ple sell­ing shares for profit within small time­frames.

Sec­ondly, share op­tions are to be re­leased to Air Malta work­ers.

Thirdly, af­ter a pe­riod of two years, shares are to be sold pub­licly ac­cord­ing to the MFSA List­ing rules.

The third prin­ci­ple

Air Malta, must work so that once it has its fi­nan­cial house in or­der, it would be able to get fi­nances from the lo­cal or in­ter­na­tional mar­ket for there to be in­vest­ment in ef­fi­ciency, qual­ity of ser­vice and tech­no­log­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

The fourth prin­ci­ple

The PN be­lieves that an agreed upon model should be for­mally ac­cepted by both par­ties, and that it should be one grant­ing vis­i­bil­ity for this and sub­se­quent leg­is­la­tures, thus pre­sent­ing a sta­ble pic­ture of the fu­ture.

PN MP Censu Galea said Air Malta work­ers were wor­ried about their fu­ture, and this was hap­pen­ing in spite of the govern­ment’s pledge that no worker would lose his or her job.

He said that work­ers should not be the ones to pay for cur­rent or fu­ture prob­lems. He said that the PN pro­pos­als are aimed at eas­ing the minds of work­ers, and that they should be in­formed about what is go­ing on.

PN MP An­toine Borg said that the pro­pos­als made em­pha­sise the need for sus­tain­abil­ity of the air­line, and the im­por­tance of look­ing at the wider sit­u­a­tion.

PN does not have any knowl­edge of any spe­cific po­ten­tial lo­cal in­vestors

An­swer­ing a ques­tion by The Malta Independent, Mr Grech said the PN does not have any knowl­edge as to spe­cific lo­cal in­vestors in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing shares in Air Malta.

He said, how­ever, that the Cham­ber of Com­merce and the MHRA “both say that the lo­cal pri­vate sec­tor should be given op­por­tu­nity to in­vest in the air­line”.

The PN is con­fused, govern­ment re­torts

The govern­ment, in re­sponse, said the PN is con­fused.

It said in a state­ment, “Af­ter the PN Leader has been, for months, say­ing that govern­ment needs to make Air Malta shares open to the public, Clau­dio Grech to­day said that this can only oc­cur af­ter two years. This con­firms that it is il­le­gal to sell shares to the public at this stage.”

This, govern­ment said, shows that the Op­po­si­tion doesn’t have a clear idea on how to solve the prob­lems it cre­ated within the air­line.

“Govern­ment has been say­ing for months that ev­ery op­tion, in­clud­ing lo­cal in­vest­ment is on the ta­ble. Govern­ment will re­main con­sis­tent and will agree where it makes sense for Air Malta, in the in­ter­est of the air­line and the tourism in­dus­try. Govern­ment is en­sur­ing that re­forms that should have been done years ago oc­cur im­me­di­ately.”

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