The long-awaited collective agreement between Air Malta and its pilots was signed at the airline headquarters on Friday, after weeks of tense negotiations.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said the collective agreement with Alpa had been the final step before the airline could begin to focus on growth

He was speaking at a press conference at Air Malta's offices at Skyparks in Luqa.

Asked what the sticking points had been between the pilots’ union and the airline, and how Alpa had gone from threatening industrial action, to reaching an agreement, President Emeritus George Abela, who acted as the intermediary between the airline and the unions, would only say that an amicable agreement had been reached.

Aviation sources had pointed to wages as a major obstacle, with some saying pilots were after a substantial increase.

Dr Abela said wage increases, further to those previously agreed, were not part of the agreement.

He said issues that had required lengthy discussions included vacation leave, and assurances that the company would reach its growth targets.

Dr Mizzi, meanwhile pointed towards increased routes, frequencies, and destinations as evidence of this.

He also revealed that the airline will lease an extra aircraft to keep up with demand in the summer.

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