Monday, June 22, 2020

Air Malta is struggling to find crew for repatriation flight to India

A repatriation flight to India has had to be cancelled twice because Air Malta is struggling to find crew willing to operate the flight while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, Times of Malta is informed.

A group of some 150 Indians who used to work and live in Malta said they have been stranded on the island for weeks after a flight taking them to the Indian city of Cochin keeps getting cancelled.

The government has insisted the flight has not been cancelled but merely “postponed”, though no new date has yet been set.

Times of Malta has now learnt the flight was cancelled twice as a result of Air Malta not being able to find crew willing to go on the arduous journey to India.

Strict COVID-19 measures that are still in place dictate that, upon their return, the crew must spend 14 days in quarantine.

While earlier in June, a group of pilots and cabin crew had agreed to operate the flight, plans came to a halt after the airline dismissed half of its pilots.

One source described how everything had been in place for the first flight to leave during the first week of June, but after the pilots were made redundant on June 5, the flight was moved to June 17.
Plans for crew training had also already been made ahead of the first flight and before the issue with pilots came to a head.

The passengers were informed the second flight had also been cancelled a day before they were set to fly out. Many of those leaving the island have already made work arrangements back home since they had lost their jobs here.

Some of these passengers who spoke to Times of Malta said they feared their plans back home could all go up in smoke if they do not return soon.
22/06/20 Claire Caruana/Times Malta
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