Air Malta pilots have given a vote of confidence to the leadership of their trade union amid a bitter dispute with Air Malta which has seen 69 pilots sacked.

The union - the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) - said it had held an extraordinary general meeting as planned on Monday despite Air Malta having, in the 11th hour, withdrawn proposals which the pilots were meant to vote upon.

The airline withdrew its proposals after a court on Friday ruled that it could proceed with plans to make its pilots redundant, but it could not demote a further 30 pilots.

In a statement on Monday, the union said that while Economy Minister Silvio Schembri - who is responsible for the airline - had urged the pilots to vote in favour of the airline's proposals, the airline had inexplicably withdrawn them. 

Since arrangements for the general meeting had already been made, the meeting still went ahead.

The union said its members voted unanimously in a vote of confidence in the executive committee.

In the interests of transparency and accountability, the final proposals, as received from Air Malta, were still presented to the members.

"These proposals were not favourably received by the members present," the union said without giving details.

It said it remained willing to enter into meaningful and effective consultation with the company for an agreement to ensure the sustainability and viability of the national airline.

Talks between the pilots and airline management reached an acrimonious stage in April - at the height of the COVID-19 travel shutdown- when minister Silvio Schembri even accused ALPA of trying to “hijack” the airline after refusing to accept a pay cut to €1,200 a month until normal operations resumed.

The union insisted the proposed pay cuts were far too deep.

No details were given of Air Malta's latest offer, although sources indicated that the airline had suggested reduced salaries for a number of years, while retaining all the pilots. 

Air Malta is due to resume regular flights to a number of destinations on Wednesday as travel restrictions start to be eased. 

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