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Poland to reduce flights if talks with controllers fail


The Polish government has announced plans to drastically reduce flights at Warsaw’s two airports from Sunday if talks with air traffic controllers demanding better working conditions fail

WARSAW, Poland — The Polish government has announced plans to drastically reduce flights at Warsaw’s two airports from Sunday if talks with air traffic controllers demanding better working conditions fail.

Regulations released late Monday state that Frederic Chopin and Modlin airports will operate from 07:30 GMT to 15:00 GMT each day and will only handle flights to and from key destinations.

The majority of air traffic controllers in Warsaw are threatening to quit their jobs on May 1 after a long dispute with the Polish Air Navigation Authority over the authority’s working hours, wages and financial transparency.

The conflict comes to a head as world leaders travel to Warsaw for talks on supporting neighboring Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.

Due to the war across the border, Poland’s eastern skies were dedicated to the needs of Polish and American military forces stationed in the area with the aim of enhancing Poland’s security.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested on Tuesday that the controllers’ union had to give in on certain points. He said controllers typically work 30-hour weeks and earn up to 45,000 zlotys ($10,000) before tax per month, which are very favorable terms by Polish standards.

The air traffic controllers’ union disputed the figures. He said incomes were much lower and people with 30 years of experience could earn around 33,000 zlotys ($7,600) a month before taxes.

The union claimed that for the past two years controllers had been expected to work solo shifts or sometimes 12-hour shifts, conditions it described as a threat to flight safety.

The union also accused the national air navigation authority PANSA of neglecting certain regulations on international flights.

The labor dispute began about two years ago with the appointment of a Polish right-wing government loyalist to head PANSA. Janusz Janiszewski has increased working hours and cut salaries for air traffic controllers, arguing that traffic was much reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some controllers quit and some flights were delayed at Warsaw airports, Janiszewski was fired on March 31. A state audit body found problems with its management, Polish media reported.

ABC News

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