Updated 2.40pm with Malta Air statement

A group of around 60 cabin crew and pilots who work for Ryanair subsidiary Malta Air will be made redundant in a month, as part of cost-cutting efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In a letter sent to the staff and seen by Times of Malta, the airline says that in order to try and “survive the COVID-19 crisis” there is an “unavoidable need for redundancies” at the Malta base. 

Times of Malta is informed that some 60 employees will be impacted by the decision - roughly one-third of the airline's staff contingent of cabin crew and pilots.

The airline said the decision came after talks on “reasonable pay cuts”, mooted in the wake of the outbreak that resulted in fleets being grounded, failed. 

Pilots and cabin crew are being given a month’s notice of termination though they will not be made to work the notice period. 

According to the letter, the payment for the month’s notice amounts to €1,489. Their last day of employment is listed as June 30.

A Malta Air spokesman said: "Due to COVID19 we are facing a drop in traffic this year of up to 50 per cent. We are doing our utmost to save jobs. We have agreed pay cuts with our pilots, which will be sufficient to avoid job losses, but our cabin crew have to date failed to accept our pay proposals, which means job losses of up to 40 cabin crew are now unavoidable."

The spokesman said the company would continue talks with cabin crew to agree on "pay efficiencies which might reduce or eliminate the need for job losses".

Attempts to contact the Tourism Ministry were unsuccessful. 

The low-cost travel giant set up the new airline in June last year, after securing a deal with the government and which gave it a golden share in Malta Air. This enables the government to veto decisions on the sale of the airline or the transfer of the name.

When it was first unveiled, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary had announced that the new airline hopes to carry five million passengers within five years. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought airlines around the world to their knees as countries imposed flight bans to control the spread of the virus. 

Malta Air's parent company, Ryanair, has said it would be cutting 3,000 jobs overall as part of its efforts to keep costs down. The low-cost airline expects to resume 40 per cent of its flights by July. 

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