PN bases its Malta on fou Plan for Air r principles
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.”