Polish air traffic controllers agree temporary deal, averting mass flight cancellations

Air traffic controllers have reached a temporary agreement over pay and conditions with Poland’s air navigation agency, PANSA. That has for now averted mass cancellations of flights that were due to take place from 1 May, after over 130 controllers planned to leave their jobs at the end of April.

Last night, PANSA revealed that it had accepted all of the controllers’ demands regarding safety conditions. Talks over pay continued today, before the parties announced that the controllers’ union had recommended that its members extend their notice period or sign a fixed-term contract until July.

“The most important thing is that there is no threat of air traffic paralysis over Poland,” said infrastructure minister Andrzej Adamczyk, quoted by news service Gazeta.pl. “Passengers can breath a sigh of relief.”

But the deputy head of the controllers’ union, Andrzej Fenrych, warned that this was just a “truce” and “not the end of the war”. He said the union had made “far-reaching concessions…so that Poles are able to travel and airlines that suffered from the pandemic can develop their business in the summer season”.

Adamczyk confirmed that, as a result of the deal, the government was beginning procedures to withdraw a regulation it introduced earlier this week that would have severely restricted flights at Poland’s busiest airport, Warsaw Chopin, from 1 May.

Government to restrict flights at Poland’s busiest airport amid dispute with controllers

Flights would have only been allowed to take place between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and priority would be given to a limited number of routes. It was estimated that around two thirds of flights from Chopin and Modlin, Warsaw’s second airport, would have been cancelled.

Now, thanks to today’s agreement, “airport will work full-time”, said the infrastructure minister. This weekend is likely to be a particularly busy one, as national holidays on 1 May and 3 May mean that many Poles traditionally take holidays at this time of year.

Main image credit:  Oskar Kadaksoo/Unsplash

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