Government to cut 470 jobs at AirMalta, PN says Govt lost credibility / Malta News Briefing – Friday 14 January 2022

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Government to downsize Airmalta by half: Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has announced that in view of a restructuring plan being negotiated with the European Commission, the company will be reducing its human resource complement from just under 900 to 420. These employees will be absorbed within the public sector, saving the airline some €15 million per year.

Caruana explained that the major reductions will be achieved through ceasing cargo handling operations by quarter two, and major reductions from cabin crew and administration. The Minister insisted that the company had a fighting chance to survive: “We have been strong with the European Commission that Air Malta has a fighting chance and we believe that our plan will save the company from bankruptcy,” he added.

In a reaction, the Nationalist Party recalled that back in 2012 the European Commission had approved a PN-led restructuring plan, which would have allowed the airline to return to viability. Today, Government has admitted that it had lost credibility in the eyes of the Commission for failing to implement this plan. PN MP Mario de Marco recalled that back in 2019 Government had boasted that the airline was profitable with the Minister today comparing the same airline to a fireplace. The PN lambasted Caruana for not being clear on whether this plan – which involves the loss of more than 400 jobs – has been approved by the Commission. “This is unacceptable for the Opposition and for the Maltese public. Government has lost its credibility with the EC and has deceived workers when claiming it was profitable”. De Marco said that Labour had transformed Air Malta into a political club. “Air Malta’s employees and the tourism industry will be paying for Labour’s administrative incompetence”.

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HSBC plea deal ‘not reached to benefit Carmelo Abela’ – Prime Minister: A plea deal with one of the suspects in the 2010 HSBC heist was not reached to benefit minister Carmelo Abela, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Friday. Replying to Times of Malta questions about whether suspect Darren Debono could implicate Abela in the heist, the prime minister said he “categorically denies” the plea deal was designed to protect minister Abela.  In an eleventh-hour deal, Darren Debono was jailed for 10-and-a-half years in exchange for a guilty plea and testimony against Muscat. It is not known if Debono has also offered up information about other suspects involved in the crime.

Gozo was region with highest sales at end of 2021: Most of the property sold in the last three months of 2021 was in Gozo, data issued by the National Statistics Office shows. The NSO said in a statement that in the fourth quarter of the year, 3,877 final deeds of sale were registered, an annual increase of 23.1%. The value of the deeds registered during this period rose by 35% over the same quarter of the previous year and amounted to €839.8 million. 

Covid-19 update: A further 516 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Friday while 1,255 patients recovered. A 68-year-old woman died while positive with the virus, bringing the death toll to 501.

PM does not rule out extension of supplement

The Covid-19 wage supplement will be extended to February and, if requered, even until March and April, Prime Minister Robert Abela while meeting the Chamber of SMEs. A number of sectors have made such calls in recent weeks as the Omicron variant put dampened recovery. “This is the time to show how resilient we truly are as a country. The wage supplement will remain for as long as needed”, the PM said.

Government publishes official ‘venue list’ for 17th Jan measures

Authorities have published the list of places where a vaccine certificate will be mandatory from Monday.
This will be needed for bars and nightclubs, restaurants, każini, snack bars, cinemas, pools, spas and saunas, gyms and fitness centres, wowling alleys
theatres, casinos, gaming parlours and bingo halls and venues hosting any other organised event. Yesterday, Health Minister Chris Fearne said the new measure will mean restaurants no longer need to keep a distance of two metres between tables and can go back to pre-pandemic capacities. They must still, however, close by 1am. (Times of Malta)

Aquilina charged with rape and murder, but police say no link with victim

Abner Aquilina, 20, from Żejtun has been charged on Thursday evening with the rape and murder of Polish student Paulina Dembska. Prosecutors said that Aquilina held the woman against her will, raping the woman and ultimately murdering her. In a press conference held earlier, a spokesperson for the police said that “it results from the investigation that the case was not premeditated. There was not specific target, no particular gender was targeted, nor was the victim specifically targeted.” Police said there was no prior link between the suspect and the victim. Aquilina pleaded not guilty. (Maltatoday)

Covid-19 Update: Malta’s Covid-19 death tally reached the 500-mark after four persons passed away over the past 24 hours. They were aged between 71 and 93. 462 new cases were reported, with 1261 recoveries, meaning an active case tally of 12,301.

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