Airline passengers travelling to or from Portugal this weekend should be prepared for delays and cancellations as the nation’s air traffic controllers begin three days of strikes. The workers are planning intermittent, two-hour strikes throughout Thursday, with a 24-hour strike planned for Friday, meaning that the disruption continues into the weekend.
The planned work stoppages are the latest action taken by air traffic controllers in an ongoing protest against government plans to cut salaries and restructure the sector as part of Portugal’s economic austerity plan.
The strikes will hit the flight plans of many of Europe’s major airlines, including Ireland-based Ryanair, considered to be Europe’s largest no-frills carrier, which has confirmed a number of flight cancellations due to the disruption. The action has caused the airline to call on the European Commission to remove the right to strike from air traffic controllers in Europe, to bring them in line with most of Europe’s police forces and army personnel, and air traffic controllers in the USA.
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said, ‘The summer schedules in Europe are just weeks’ old and already the Portuguese air traffic controllers will be engaging in three days of strikes. The solution to this problem is simple, remove their right to strike in exactly the same way that air traffic controllers in the USA are prevented by law from striking.’
In a statement, the British Foreign Office said, ‘Disruption to flights to and from Portugal on these dates may be experienced as a result. Travellers are advised to contact their travel company or airline for further information.’