Konrad Mizzi avoids commenting on Air Malta official’s request to rent plane via social media
Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi would not be drawn to give an opinion yesterday whether he believed the Chief Commercial Officer of Air Malta requesting to hire a plane through LinkedIn is a professional move or not when asked.
The minister was overseeing the signing of agreement between Malta Tourism Authority and VIACOM International Networks.
This newsroom asked Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi about the number of Air Malta flights that had been delayed or cancelled, raising the issue that the Chief Information Officer of the airline, Paul Sies, tried to rent a plane through LinkedIn, asking whether he believes that this was an act made in a professional manner or not.
Avoiding a direct answer, the minister said that there was a big push over the past year or so, in terms of opening new routes, while increasing frequency of flights. Commercially the airline is doing well, and mentioned an increase in passenger numbers.
He said that operations need to catch up with the commercial and revenue side of the airline. He said that one of the challenges they are undertaking is the reform in the operations control centre. He said that the airline is working hard to always make sure crews are available, adding that through the collective agreements, pilots and crews are working according to international flight time regulations. “However there is a legal limit and we now need to recruit crew. Over the coming weeks new pilots should be joining the Air Malta fleet, which should relieve the situation on the pilots’ side, and we are doing the same in terms of cabin crew.”
The second key issue is that the Air Malta planes are old, and the airline is replacing them. He said the airline still has some issues with the pilots union which they will discuss again in the coming weeks. He apologised for the customers who suffered any cancellations, while stressing that Air Malta compares well with other airlines. He said Air Malta was ranked one of the top airlines around the world.
Asked by the press about more delayed and cancelled flights, and how he can justify saying that only a few flights were delayed when there were hundreds of passengers being affected.
“Just to give an example, the day before yesterday we had 57 flights. They were operating at 87% load factor, and when you compare the number of cancellations we had in comparison with the broad number of flights the airline operates we compare well. We do apologise and this is a temporary glitch we are addressing.”
He mentioned that the airline grew quickly and that they are addressing the issues, adding that Air Malta will turn a page and make profit. He said the airline will introduce a buffer for such future issues.