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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case MT-2020-15/1033 – measures in Malta

Agreement between Air Malta and Engineers Union

Country Malta , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 08 April 2020
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Employment protection and retention
– Wage flexibility
Author Luke Anthony Fiorini (University of Malta) and Eurofound
Case created 10 August 2020 (updated 27 August 2020)

Background information

The COVID-19 pandemic hit airlines hard, with Air Malta no exception. The relevant Minister stated that whereas Air Malta would usually have around 20 flights a day, it was down to two flights a day. Air Malta therefore initiated discussions with relevant Unions to save the airline and the workers. Discussions were initiated with unions representing engineers, cabin crew and the pilots (each group has its own union). New agreements were concluded with the former two groups, resulting in no jobs being lost. A new agreement, however, was not reached with the pilot's union, ALPA, resulting in sizeable redundancies

Content of measure

Air Malta offered unions representing various employee groups a minimum floor of the average pay of the last twelve months, capped at €1200, as basic monthly income, included if they were not needed to operate and stayed home. The offer also allowed employees to earn more than this figure; Air Malta stated "if compensation for actual work performed would (in terms of the applicable collective agreement) result in compensation in excess of €1200 in a month, they would be remunerated on the basis of the actual amount due in terms of the applicable collective agreement for the work performed." The same offer was made to various groups of employees, including engineers, cabin crew and pilots, and covered both those on indefinite and definite contracts. Of the applicable groups, only the engineers thorough their union, the Association of Airline Engineers (AAE), accepted the offer. Air Malta consequently began redundancy procedures against cabin crew and pilots; following further discussions, cabin crew eventually also reached an agreement with Air Malta and redundancies were avoided.

Use of measure

Few specifics are available about the measure. However, all engineer employees of Air Malta were retained. Numbers and futher information is not available.


  • Employment retention
  • Pay freezes or cuts

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Particular professions
Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
Company / Companies
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Negotiated No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Company level


As COVID-19 struck and Air Malta was practically grounded, the organisation called the unions representing its workers (including engineers, cabin crew and pilots) to either accept a much reduced minimum salary of €1,200 monthly, including if they were not required to operate, with employees able to earn more if work was performed as per their collective agreement, or to face redundancy. The engineer's union (following a vote by their members, of which 90% voted in favour) accepted the offer, the cabin crews' and pilots' unions rejected the offer.

Views and reactions

The involved union, the Association of Airline Engineers (AAE), did not provide any public reaction to the agreement.

Air Malta insisted that the agreement was necessary in view of the new realities faced by the organisation. The cabin crew union and that of the pilots, ALPA, were dismissive of the offer and felt that the airline was taking advantage of the sudden change in climate to deprive their members of their agreements.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      C - Manufacturing C33 Repair and installation of machinery and equipment
      H - Transportation And Storage H51 Air transport
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Science and engineering associate professionals
      Science and engineering professionals



Eurofound (2020), Agreement between Air Malta and Engineers Union, case MT-2020-15/1033 (measures in Malta), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.