vendredi, juillet 14, 2006
Over the last few weeks the European Parliament has agreed on a new jet-fuel tax (dubbed 'green tax') that will in the future hit all flights in Europe (including LCCs). The result is obviously that all flight prices will go up (by about €100). The Maltese, already disadvantaged as it is, will maintain the same disadvantageous position, only that it will be relatively more expensive than before to travel vis-a-vis the affordability that an average wage in Malta allows. The disadvantage becomes ginormous when you think that Maltese travellers have NO access to LCCs - so the relatively cheaper is relatively non-existent.
Yesterday the Times reported that over the last two years Air Malta has lost 28 pilots to airlines that can cough up more cash (see Emirates and other oil-rich country carriers). The news was peppered with Interesting Facts (capitalised as the Goons would) among which we find that the annual wage of an AirMalta pilot is at least one third of that of the poaching airlines*. I would assume that Air Malta pilots get good training that also costs the national airline money - only to scoot off to a better paying airline once the training is finished and contractual obligations are fulfilled. Which means that Air Malta needs new pilots fast. Now I don't know about you but I have an ugly feeling about an airline that recruits pilots quickly. You know what I mean? The unsustainability of Airmalta continues to prove an unequivocal argument that we are protecting the unprotectable.
And then came TUI. For those of you who have never heard of it, TUI is one of the major tour operators in Europe (linked to Thompson Holidays). TUI has just struck off a number of Maltese Hotels from the Summer 2007 catalogue (see report on maltastar.com). Now that is no small news story. TUI does not only service the UK- It is a big operator in the BENELUX and France. My holiday in Cuba was a TUI package - when you choose your holiday you get a catalogue with a choice of hotels and you can choose from three to five class and more. All hotels are vetted and guaranteed by TUI - I can safely say that persons travelling from the continent are strongly influenced by the choice of tour operator. Losing a TUI backing is not a joke.
In the letter that TUI sent to the Maltese hotel managers informing them of its decision it said:
“The market in which Malta operates has changed dramatically in recent times. Changes such as the needs of our customers, the advent of low cost airlines in other areas and new technology have created the need for us to reshape our business and subsequently some of our programme in Malta will be dropped for the following summer.” " Ooops. Remember that incredible Air Malta report that was analysed on j'accuse a few days ago? Remember the doom and gloom of the dependence of the Hotel industry on an LCC?
Well who's laughing now? We are in the ridiculous situation of having our hotel industry suffer because we sadistically choose to exclude LCCs from our market to protect a dying horse. We are now semi-officially the Non-Low Cost Country. Somehow any remnants of prestige that this monicker could have afforded the Sunny Happy State vanishes away with the gloomy forecast of no tourists and no travelling that lies ahead.
So Austin... still don't like Ryanair?
* an Air Malta captain can earn up to Lm26,000 annually. Ryanair pays its captains with similar experience Lm62,000. (just switch the first two digits!)