Amidst a growing number of complaints, Air Malta issued a statement on Thursday (yesterday), informing that the current disruption in services is due to the transition of its ground handling services to a new, external company that is operating with new staff, therefore warning that disruptions and flight delays are likely for the foreseeable future, adding that the transition is “complex and challenging.”
The new company called Aviation Services Handling Limited took over operations on 1st December 2022 and is a joint venture between Air Malta (40 per cent) and Rome-based Aviation Services Spa (60 per cent). The phase-in is expected to take place over a period of time, transferring passenger handling, baggage handling, and cargo handling to the new operator. The new company is still actively recruiting, indicating that it is short-staffed.
On 14th December, a flight from Munich to Malta was cancelled, after it was scheduled to depart, with passengers having to disembark from the aircraft. The rescheduled flight on 15th December was met with further disruptions, to which the airline attributed the disruption being “compounded by the simultaneous arrival of various aircraft from snow-bound airports across Europe particularly from Germany (Munich) and Austria (Vienna).”
Social media groups have become awash with complaints about the current service provided by Air Malta, with a growing number of customers declaring that their luggage has either been lost or misplaced, causing passengers to miss their connecting flights.
Changing critical service providers in the middle of one of the busiest periods for air travel may not have been a wise decision, especially if it means depending on untrained staff. This is due to Air Malta’s own full-time handling staff having been transferred to other Government departments, or been given generous severance packages, in a cost-cutting exercise by the airline.
According to Newsbook, no handover was given to the newly employed Italian employees, who are in Malta on a three-month definite contract.
Meanwhile, the Government is still waiting for permission from the European Commission to provide €250 million in state aid to Air Malta. If the Government does not get the green-light, there is a possibility that the it will dissolve the ailing national airline and start a new airline from scratch.
It remains unclear whether insurance companies would benefit from additional certainty or balk at increased payouts
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