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Update 2: Air Malta's rebranding to cost €1.9 million

The total cost of Air Malta's rebranding will be €1.9 million, the airline's CEO Peter Davies said this morning.

Speaking during a business breakfast during which the airline launched its new logo and livery, he said he considered this to be an investment and not a cost. This figure includes painting of the new livery on the aircraft.

Mr Davies said the restructuring plan was on the way to be realised with costs being cut further in the first quarter of the current financial year.

The Airline Pilots' Association last Saturday urged its members to boycott the celebratory events surrounding the exercise saying the rebranding process with all its substantial costs was never mentioned in the Steering Committee

Asked about the pilots' reaction to the exercise, Mr Davies said he preferred to talk about ALPA rather than the body of pilots as a whole because there was a difference between the two.

Financially, he said, Air Malta was making headway and the majority of pilots were enthusiastic about this change.

"We hope to eventually win all their hearts and minds."

But in a statement issued in the afternoon, ALPA said that the "body of pilots" and ALPA were one and the same and this was confirmed in a secret vote last June when 94 per cent of pilots gave ALPA executive committee the mandate to take any action it deemed fit.

ALPA said all pilots wanted to see change. However, they also wanted to be consulted to help the company return to profitability as soon as possible.

Mr Davies explained that the rebranding expense had been included in the restructuring plan and it was required to motivate employees for the change the airline is going through.

Mr Davies said that first quarter results for the current financial year will soon be out but the airline was on track in achieving its target of reducing losses to €15 million.

"We are actually slightly ahead of budget," he said.

He said that when workers were first given details about the restructuring exercise in June last year, they were told that every €1 Air Malta earned cost it €1.25.

By the end of the financial year that closed in March, that cost had dropped to €1.14 and it was expected to go down further to €1.07 by the end of the current financial year.

The company expected to break even in 2014 and turn a profit in the following years, he said.

He did not want to comment about the controversy surrounding the purchase of the RJ Avroliners in the mid-90s which led to the company losing millions of euros.

Chairman Louis Farrugia described this day as a milestone but cautioned that the task ahead was still very tough.

"We must not underestimate the challenges ahead but I am optimistic."

Asked why the word 'Air' had been removed from the logo on the aircraft, Mr Farrugia said this allowed the word 'Malta' to be displayed much larger on the aircraft. This tied in with the philosophy that Air Malta was a destination aircraft. The company's name, however, was still Air Malta.

The rebranding exercise was conducted FutureBrand of London.

By November, the airline expects to have six aircraft decked with the new livery.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech were present for the launch.

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