Updated 7pm - Added UHM statement

Air Malta employees should be very concerned about Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi's "unprecedented threat" to close the national airline, the Nationalist Party said this afternoon. 

In a statement, PN MP and tourism spokesman Robert Arrigo said that Air Malta had to be seen in the broader context of its contribution to the national economy and tourism sector, rather than as a mere commercial entity. 

The PN statement came after Dr Mizzi told MaltaToday that Air Malta could be shut down unless uncooperative unions got on board with plans to turn the struggling airline around.

WATCH: No Air Malta partner until the airline is restructured, says Mizzi

"If the employees and the unions do not understand that they need to work with the company and the government while we implement changes to make the airline profitable, the government might have no other option but to close the company down completely and re-open with new staff," Dr Mizzi said. 

Airline cabin crew and pilots are both understood to be demanding significant pay increases.

In its statement, the PN noted that the government had previously said that talks with unions representing Air Malta workers were coming along. 

"Were the Labour Party's promises all talk?" the party asked. 

Dr Mizzi's harsh words were also condemned by UHM Voice of the Workers, which in a statement said workers could not end up as "sacrificial lambs" for company problems which had been years in the making. 

In its statement, the union urged the government to return to the negotiating table to find a sustainable plan to ensure Air Malta's future. 


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