Times of Malta

New national airline drops Maltese language requisite


Malta’s new national airline, KM Malta Airlines, has dropped the Maltese language as a requiremen­t for its staff because it expects “more than 80 per cent” of its customers to be foreign, according to the airline spokespers­on.

After 50 years in operation, Air Malta packed its bags and was replaced by KM Malta Airlines which flew its maiden flight to Catania, Sicily, on Sunday morning.

Sunday newspaper Illum reported that KM Malta Airlines will not require applicants for cabin crew positions to speak Maltese, unlike its predecesso­r, where cabin crew were required to speak and write both English and Maltese.

A KM Malta Airlines spokespers­on told Times of Malta its decision to not make the Maltese language a requiremen­t for its cabin crew reflected the reality of the passengers who will be boarding their flights.

“It is expected that more than 80 per cent of customers flying on KM Malta Airlines will not

be Maltese nationals and it was therefore considered that knowledge of written and spoken Maltese should no longer be considered as a mandatory requiremen­t for employment,” she said.

The spokespers­on said currently all cabin crew have knowledge of the Maltese language. She added that safety and other messages on all KM Malta Airline flights will still be

made in Maltese and English.

“Within a cabin crew operating team of 4-5 staff, KM Malta Airlines will always have crew who have good knowledge of spoken Maltese, but the airline may on certain routes decide to enhance its in-flight language skillset for the benefit of its many foreign customers.”

The spokespers­on explained this is a “trend” seen across the wider hospitalit­y forum in

Malta, as tourism and hospitalit­y markets gear themselves toward service standards for important tourist segments that visit the island.

“As the national airline, KM Malta Airlines is totally committed to adopt the Maltese language as its first language and together with Il-Kunsill Nazzjonali TalIlsien Malti it is developing a clear and updated language policy so that bilinguali­sm is standardis­ed throughout its different media of communicat­ion as is done by all other airlines.”

The Nationalis­t Party was one of many to criticise the decision to drop the requiremen­t for cabin crew to speak Maltese, stating the decision was “shameful”.

PN MEP David Casa also commented on the decision in a Facebook post.

“A Maltese airline that discarded the Maltese language. I eagerly wait for the theatrics of Labour MEPs in front of the concerned ministry.”

Independen­t MEP candidate Arnold Cassola also took a dig at KM Malta Airlines.

“Mind your language,” Cassola wrote, referring to the British comedy by the same name. He said a number of internatio­nal airlines abroad require their staff to speak the language of their country.

“ITA requires their staff to speak Italian, Lufthansa requires theirs to speak German, Air France requires theirs to speak French,” Cassola wrote. “But we special, ħi: no Maltese required.”

The airline’s announceme­nt comes days after the government launched its €475 skills pass nonEU workers will need to apply for to work in the tourism sector.

 ?? PHOTO: MATTHEW MIRABELLI ?? KM Malta Airlines cabin crew are not required to speak or write in Maltese.
PHOTO: MATTHEW MIRABELLI KM Malta Airlines cabin crew are not required to speak or write in Maltese.

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