A majority of Air Malta employees have agreed to severance package proposals as well as to extending a deadline to leave the company until the end of the year.
Around 95 per cent of the roughly 350 airline workers represented by the General Workers Union voted to extend a relocation deadline to December 31, in a vote held on Thursday.
The original deadline was set to draw to a close this month.
Employees also agreed to an outline of severance deals that will be available to workers who choose not to take up a new job in the public sector.
Workers will either be recruited by other government entities at the same wage and conditions they had at Air Malta, or else can take a severance package based on their years of service.
The alternative offer of severance packages represents a new development, with the original proposal put to workers making no mention of golden handshakes.
The changes form part of a restructuring plan announced by the government last January. The plan will see the airline’s workforce cut in half, in a bid to save around €15 million in annual wages.
Apart from slashing Air Malta’s headcount, the government has said it is hiving off baggage and ground handling services, cutting unprofitable routes and seeking to transform the airline into a European carrier that can fly within other countries.
What severance deals can workers now take?
In June, Times of Malta reported that the relatively high salaries of many Air Malta workers was making it difficult for the government to redeploy them elsewhere.
Workers who opt for a golden handshake are being offered anything between €40,000 and €300,000.
The government is offering €40,000 to those who have served up to five years; €80,000 to those serving 5-10 years; €120,000 for 10-15 years of service; €150,000 for 15-20 years of service; €180,000 for 20-25 years; €210,000 for 25-30; and €240,000 for those of over 30 years of service.
Air Malta staff aged 50 and over are eligible for an early retirement scheme if they have served 20 years and over, to be paid two-thirds of their total take-home pay, capped at a maximum €300,000.
The government last year asked Brussels for permission to pump €290 million into the ailing airline as a last-ditch attempt to save it, but was asked to come up with a smaller "more realistic figure".
Government sources say negotiations with the European Commission are ongoing but they are not optimistic that they will secure the figure needed.
Earlier this year the government said Air Malta was operating at a loss of €170,000 a day.
While other countries had been given the green light for state aid due to COVID-19, this didn't apply to Air Malta, which was already in difficulty.
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