WARSAW, Poland ( Associated Press) — Poland’s government announced plans to significantly reduce flights at two of Warsaw’s airports starting Sunday if demands for better working conditions with air traffic controllers fail. .
Regulations published late Monday said Frédéric Chopin and Modlin airports will operate from 07:30 GMT to 15:00 GMT each day and will only handle flights to major destinations.
Most air traffic controllers in Warsaw are threatening to quit their jobs on May 1 after a drawn-out conflict with Poland’s air navigation authority over working hours, pay and the authority’s financial transparency.
The conflict comes at a time when world leaders are in Warsaw for talks on supporting neighboring Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression.
Due to cross-border warfare, the eastern skies of Poland have been devoted to the needs of Polish and American military forces stationed in the area with the goal of strengthening Poland’s defences.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested on Tuesday that the controllers’ union should focus on certain points. He said controllers typically work 30 hours a week and earn 45,000 zloty ($10,000) pre-tax a month, which is highly favorable terms by Poland’s standards.
The Trade Union of Air Traffic Controllers disputed the figures. It said earnings are very low, and individuals with 30 years of experience can earn around 33,000 zlotys ($7,600) a month before tax.
The union claimed that over the past two years, controllers have been expected to work alone or sometimes put in 12-hour shifts, describing it as a flight safety hazard.
The union also accused state air navigation authority PANSA of neglecting certain international flight rules.
The labor dispute began nearly two years ago with the appointment of a loyalist of Poland’s right-wing government to head PANSA. Janusz Janiszewski extended working hours and reduced the pay of air traffic controllers, arguing that traffic was too small during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As some controllers left and some flights were delayed at Warsaw airports, Janiszewski was fired on 31 March. A state audit body found issues with its management, Polish media reported.