All because of an intrusive app
On one level, Air Malta is constantly reported as moving forward towards profitability (though not there yet, even if it was promised to reach this by March). But on another level, sporadic news emerges that leads one to suspect there are deep-seated problems in the airline that cannot be made right. The latest spat concerned the pilots and the newest plane leased by the airline. One would have thought the pilots would be happy to work in this advanced environment which is more environmental-friendly, and consumes less fuel. Instead, the pilots had one look at the new plane … and went out on strike. Or rather threatened to strike but this threat soon evaporated. The culprit this time was a new app which, it seems, continued to record anything said in the cockpit after the plane lands. Now one would like to know what sort of conversations take place in the cockpit once the engines are switched off and how these conversations are different from what is said during the course of a flight. On the other hand, one would like to know what the company intended to get from this decision that risked a strike on its hands. The Air Malta pilots suffer from a double whammy: to the rest of the population they have a huge salary and additional perks, such as, at least until recently, of getting picked up at home before a flight. On the other hand, the Air Malta pilots look at their counterparts in other airlines and become green with envy considering the salaries and perks on offer. They are a select few but their power is enormous. If they were to strike they would cut off Malta from the rest of the world and we would become as isolated as we were in times of sails. The airline has chosen to lease a new plane, with another following in the coming months, as a result of its change of strategic direction towards a bigger airline connecting to more countries. This new strategic direction is a gamble. One understands the previous strategic direction would have driven the airline into the ground but it is far from certain that the new strategic direction will deliver growth and cut down on losses. The jury is still out, even though the airline now positions itself as ‘ the airline of the Mediterranean’ and is beginning to fly between destinations outside Malta. In these circumstances, the industrial action called just because of the existence of cockpit recorders that could not be turned off was both uncalled for and leads one to suspect, wrongly it would seem, on what type of conversations take place once the plane lands. The airline, it would seem from an ALPA statement yesterday, has accepted to switch off the recorders once the plane is on land. On the one hand, it would seem, the airline has backed down in the face of threats of industrial strife. On the other hand, one is at a loss to understand why the airline risked industrial strife over such a simple matter. All in all, it would seem, the pilots once again made a show of force and got away with it. Maybe the real problem of the airline is the extraordinary power its workforce in its various sections, has, not just the pilots. Unless this is admitted and faced, the airline will always remain an ailing airline.