Air Malta wage bill down €1.4m in three years, says chairwoman

Air Malta has reduced its full-time headcount by 57 since 2013. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Air Malta has reduced its full-time headcount by 57 since 2013. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Air Malta’s wage bill has fallen by €1.4 million since 2013, the airline’s chairwoman, Maria Micallef, told The Sunday Times of Malta.

Last week, a representative of Air Malta’s union of cabin crew pointed out that while the Tourism Minister had spoken of the need for job cuts at the airline, the company continued to train part-timers.

Figures provided by Air Malta show it has reduced its full-time headcount by 57 since 2013. It took on 80 part-timers during that same period.

From 2013 to 2016, Air Malta decreased its number of permanent, full-time employees from 856 to 799, while its complement of part-timers increased from 207 to 287 employees.

According to the airline’s financial statements, payroll costs fell from €40.7 million in 2013 to €39.3 million in 2016.

Ms Micallef said the need to reduce the headcount was made very clear in the 2010 restructuring plan which was presented to the European Commission.

Air Malta significantly increased its third-party ground-handling customers

She said the company had increased the amount of part-timers on its books so that it would be able to alter the size of its workforce in line with demand.

An airline spokesman said that in recent years, following the arrival of new airlines operating on the Malta route, Air Malta had significantly increased its third-party ground-handling customers.

The spokesman said that Air Malta had handled 13,911 flights in 2016, compared to 11,524 flights in 2013.

However, the Times of Malta reported on Friday that Air Malta had lost a €500,000-per-year contract with DHL to provide the company with ground-handling services. DHL operates a daily cargo flight to Malta. Just a few months ago, Air Malta lost the Lufthansa contract after the German airline decided to drop its ground-handling services.

The airline spokesman said the absolute majority of new employees were employed on a part-time basis in the areas of in-flight services and ground handling.

The spokesman said that these employees were only assigned duties according to operational and seasonal requirements.

This was done to address labour costs while increa-sing efficiency and flexibility, as employees retiring or resigning were replaced with part-timers, he said.

Last year, during the now-abandoned discussions with Alitalia, ground-handling personnel were told that the national airline was going to hive off their section.

They were also told that all employees were going to be transferred to a new government company which would then offer services to Air Malta.

The company has postponed the publication of its accounts and its annual general meeting until an announcement about the airline’s future can be made.

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