The flight crew member originally scheduled to operate the Air Malta flight to Moscow that was delayed by more than 10 hours on Tuesday has been on extended sick leave for close to a month, Alpa, the pilot’s union said. It added that Air Malta’s management could not hide behind the excuse that this was unforeseen. It referred to a statement by Air Malta on Wednesday that it had been forced to lease an aircraft complete with crew after pilots reported sick, delaying a number of flights. The airline said that the next standby crew for the Moscow flight was called but the co-pilot reported sick after he was called in further delaying the flight until alternative arrangements were made. But Alpa said on Thursday that shortly before the flight, Air Malta placed two captains on duty together, only for the crew to realise during their briefing just prior to the scheduled departure that the weather in Moscow was such that for operational reasons, the flight could not be operated with two captains. The union said this showed that the delay was purely a result of Air Malta's crisis management, and could have been completely avoided through adequate planning.