We recently wrote a fairly scathing piece on Air Malta’s decision to remove hot meals and a choice of drinks from Economy Class, and instead serve a baguette and 500ml of water.
Interestingly, Air Malta cabin crew have now been instructed by the Malta Union of Cabin Crew (UCC) to take limited industrial action as a result. The reason? The new “baguette and water” meal is also to be served to crew. According to the UCC, the collective agreement between the cabin crew and Air Malta states that crew have to be provided with “suitable meals”. Baguette and water is, apparently, not a “suitable meal”.
As a result, passengers on all Air Malta flights will now receive an even more limited service. Cabin crew will provide the free baguette and water, but the “wide selection of good quality food items, including hot”, that is supposed to be made available for purchase from cabin crew, will not be offered.
As things stand, and as we have previously stated, we are opposed to this development as things stand. Don’t get us wrong – we appreciate Air Malta has to adapt and make more money in order to survive. Our principal issue is that the move is quite simply a cut on the Economy Class service with no stated quid pro quo benefit, such as cheaper fares.
It just seems to be devaluing the appeal of Air Malta to travellers, who have a number of alternative options at both premium and budget level.
The move is clearly intended to make a bottom-line saving, so there is no indication that the cash spared will be used to reduce flight costs. We think this is very short-sighted, particularly with Ryanair a strong player in the Malta market. Budget service at premium airline prices does not strike us as a sustainable business model. Where the business model is seemingly already unsustainable, that is a touch worrying.
The PR on this was also handled badly – with Air Malta noting it would simultaneously upgrade meals in Business Class. Essentially a squeeze on Economy Class to benefit Business. Again, if prices are revised to reflect this, fair enough – but that has not been evident in any communication from air Malta to date.