Kon­rad Mizzi avoids com­ment­ing on Air Malta of­fi­cial’s re­quest to rent plane via so­cial me­dia

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

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.

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