The government will resume talks on Wednesday with representatives of 69 pilots sacked by Air Malta last year with a view of achieving a "fair deal", Finance Minister Clyde Caruana told parliament on Tuesday.

He was replying to questions by Nationalist MP David Thake about whether talks with the European Union on state aid for Air Malta provided for the reinstatement of the pilots. Thake also observed that the pilots had since been employed by the government, doing work that had nothing to do with their training. How much would it cost to get them back in a position to fly again?

In his reply, Caruana said that not all the pilots had accepted to work with the government.  Whether or not they were reinstated was not part of the recovery plan being discussed with the European Commission. 

He said talks with the pilots would be held on Wednesday. He was open to a discussion, he said, but the realities of the company and the travel industry could not be ignored. No one expected the travel industry to return to 2019 levels immediately and the demand for pilots would not be the same as before the pandemic.

He was, however, ready to consider any proposals leading to a fair deal.

Pilots offered jobs at same previous pay

Thake asked the minister whether the pilots had been engaged by the government on the same pay they had with the airline, in terms of an existing agreement, and whether their reinstatement would therefore mean they would get a lower pay.

Caruana confirmed that the pilots are still on the same pay they had when employed by the airline.

Everyone knew, he said, how sacrifices were being made in the airline because of the current situation. Cabin crew, for example, had agreed to a lower take-home pay and he expected no less from the pilots, both regarding their pay and conditions.

Asked if Air Malta employee (and political commentator) Karl Stagno Navarra was also expected to agree to a reduced pay, the minister said he expected all at Air Malta to turn up for work and do their duty.

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