Sort out Air Malta’s problems now, PD demands
Partit Demokratiku (PD) yesterday demanded that the government sorts out Air Malta’s problems immediately as the carrier “is not only our national airline, it is also a reflection of the efficiency of the country whose name it bears.
“By not getting things right and by letting its customers down we are implying that Malta is not capable of doing business properly.”
PD pointed to the recent scheduling problems the airline has been experiencing, which have resulted in delays and the cancellation of flights on prime routes.
PD also noted, however, that the recent expansion in routes and the reversal of the slow, steady decline of the airline could be a good thing “but only if things are handled well.”
It added: “While Air Malta and Minister Konrad Mizzi keep blaming late delivery of the new Airbus NEO for the current situation, any person with a minimum of knowledge of the airline industry would have known of the delays in delivery of this aircraft as they have been well reported.”
While the delay in delivery is not the fault of the airline or the minister, PD acknowledged, “the lack of foresight when expanding Air Malta’s routes with this knowledge and the handling the situation certainly is.”
PD also expressed concern on the contract for the new planes, asking: “Why is it different from the original contract with Aercap which provided the original aircraft? Was it done by direct order, or was there a call for tenders and a bidding process?”
PD suggested following measures to mitigate the situation until the aircraft is delivered and the situation is improved:
1. Get the firm dates of when all aircraft on which summer schedule was planned are going to be available;
2. Calculate the time gap and start putting passengers on other airlines from now, advising them days in advance and giving them a choice;
3. Begin a mammoth customer care effort to smooth out things for the passengers.
PD added: “Air Malta and the tourism minister need to get their act together. Besides the financial cost of compensation for delays and cancellations, there is an unquantifiable cost to our national airline’s and country’s reputation which took years to build and can take only weeks to destroy.”