Travel and Tourism Agents are extremely concerned with the current situation at Air Malta especially in the light of recent statements reported in the media regarding the airline’s future related to the stalemate in ongoing the dispute with the pilots’ union.
Notwithstanding it’s dubious future, Air Malta continues to aggressively promote early bookings, collecting the full airfare and applicable taxes in advance from travel agents and consumers alike for travel as far ahead as December 2018.
The serious concern arises from travel and tourism agents’ own obligations to contribute to a fund to protect consumers against insolvency. Airlines are not obliged to contribute to this fund and the fund does not therefore cover airline’s insolvency.
However package travel operators will face serious financial difficulties, possibly resulting in the insolvency, should Air Malta cease trading without the operators being able to recover payments made to the airline in advance. The insolvency of any package operator will trigger claims on the fund as a direct result of the airline’s failure.
FATTA President Iain Tonna, said “Only a clear pronouncement by Government will alleviate the concern of agents and consumers alike. Without this, it will only be natural for agents and consumers to avoid booking and paying for flights well in advance. It would be unreasonable to expect travel agents or consumers to carry the risk and responsibility for a situation they have no control over”.
FATTA therefore calls on the Government, in its capacity as the shareholder of Air Malta plc, to guarantee to refund the full cost of any airline tickets and taxes which the airline is unable to honour in the event that it is declared insolvent or otherwise ceases trading.