By SOPHIE MCCARRICK – [email protected]
Air traffic controllers initiated strikes at airports throughout Portugal on May 11, which are scheduled to continue on various days this month, including today (May 18).
The protest was triggered by Navegação Aérea de Portugal (NAV) employees against the government, following economic austerity measures implemented.
Portuguese air traffic controllers were subjected to cuts in pay including their holiday pay, Christmas bonus, over-time allowance and expenses, which negatively influence their overall income.
In a statement to Lusa news agency, NAV workers claim to be challenging the “continuing lack of government response to their grievances.”
NAV says they have been drawing attention about their claims of injustice to the government for over a year, and have resorted to dire action in an attempt to obtain a worthy response.
Additional days called by NAV workers to strike will include May 24 and 25, between 7am and 9am, 2pm and 4pm, then 9pm and 11pm (Portugal time) each day, in order to cause the maximum amount of disruption as possible.
Flights disrupted due to strike days so far generally affected domestic routes flying throughout Western Europe.
Suspended air traffic controlling on May 11 saw 42 flights affected at Faro airport, 20 incoming and 22 departing.
Approximately 70 flights were cancelled at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto and a further 74 cancellations were made by TAP Air and 18 by the easyJet airline.
ANA Aeroportos announced that, in total, 294 flights throughout Portugal suffered delays, cancellations and changes last Friday.
It has been recommended by ANA Aeroportos Director Rui Oliveira that, during these times of uncertainty, “in order to minimise any inconvenience, all passengers are recommended to confirm their flights with the airline company, its local representative or travel agent, before making their way to the airport.”
easyJet also requests that passengers travelling throughout the striking hours check their website (www.easyjet.com) for updated information.
The airline announced on May 16 that “as a result of the strikes, easyJet has been forced to cancel some flights which were due to be operational on May 17 and 18, whilst other flights have been rescheduled to operate out of strike periods.”
Yesterday, a total of 10 cancellations and 30 rescheduled flights were made by easyJet and today (May 18) 20 flights have been cancelled and 32 have been re-timed.
Ryanair recommends that because their flights are likely to experience further delays throughout the strikes, passengers are advised to visit their website (www.ryanair.com) for flight status updates.
According to TAP Air, “Passengers with reservations for flights affected are being contacted in order to arrange the best alternative flights.”
Meanwhile, Portuguese airline SATA International announced in April that their pilots would take part in a three-phase nine-day strike planned for that month and May, for similar reasons.
However, the first stage of the strike, that was scheduled for April 27, 28 and 29, was cancelled as was the second phase, planned for May 11, 12 and 13.
The remaining scheduled strike days, that are due to take place today (May 18), tomorrow and Sunday, are still planned to go ahead.
For further information, please contact Faro Airport on: 289 800 800, Lisbon Airport on: 218 413 500 or Porto Airport on: 229 432 400.