Parliamentary Secretary Chris Bonett has been cleared of exerting undue pressure to ensure favourable seats for his family during a flight to London, with an investigation ruling the confusion that erupted was due to a glitch in Air Malta’s system.
The controversy erupted towards the end of 2022 when Bonett booked a Christmas holiday to London Gatwick for himself, his wife, and his two young children.
The Shift News reported that passengers were told to vacate their pre-booked seats to make way for Bonett, prompting independent politician Arnold Cassola to request an investigation by the Standards Commissioner into whether he had breached ethics by requesting preferential treatment.
The Commissioner concluded his report today and proved that Bonett’s version of events, as he had recounted with Lovin Malta, was correct.
Essentially, Bonett had reserved four seats next to each other when managing his booking, but was given four scattered seats when he physically checked in at the airport. After he insisted that his two young children shouldn’t be allowed to sit by themselves, Air Malta shifted four adult passengers around to allow the four Bonetts to sit next to each other.
However, one of these passengers kicked up a fuss when they realised that their seat had been shifted and Bonett ended up swapping his seat with him.
Air Malta’s executive chairman David Curmi confirmed Bonett’s version of events and blamed the mix-up on a technical glitch in the online booking system that he said was resolved shortly after the incident.
Standards Commissioner Joseph Azzopardi therefore cleared Bonett of any wrongdoing, and Cassola responded by saying “the blame has been shifted onto the stupid Air Malta computer system”.
Bonett welcomed the decision and said the time has come for “people who throw out frivolous allegations without an ounce of truth” to shoulder responsibility.
“These people still don’t understand how much damage they cause us and our children every time they throw out allegations blindly,” he said.
“While I believe that, as a politician, I should be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny, this kind of ‘bullying’ simply because the Prime Minister trusted me with a Cabinet role shouldn’t be accepted as business as usual.”
He added that such false allegations only serve to strengthen his resolve and prove that people “have an interest in attacking the PL with lies”.
“It is really hard and there are moments when you would like to say certain things and take drastic action, but we are different and instead react calmly and let our work do the talking as we have done over the past ten years.”
Do you think Chris Bonett acted fairly?