17 April 2018

Ethiopia: Flights Grounded At Bole International Airport Following Strike By Air Traffic Controllers

Etenesh Abera — All flights departing from Addis Abeba Bole International Airport are halted to a ground due to strike by air traffic controllers, according to state TV.

Here's something you don't hear often... #Ethiopia air traffic controllers are on industrial strike. Numerous flights now delayed including KQ 401 to Nairobi. pic.twitter.com/EkgJUYa7bH

- emmanuel Igunza (@EmmanuelIgunza) April 17, 2018

Nigussie Mulugeta, airport operation manager, told the state TV that the strike began yesterday but all flights were grounded as of today because they "have not been issued with air traffic clearance." He said there were about eight planes that are parked currently and are unable to fly out of the airport. He also said they were attempting to discuss the matter with Kassa Mario, head of the air navigation department; but "they are not picking their phones when we call," Nigussie said.

My flight with @flyethiopian delayed for 90min now after boarding. See no landing and taking off planes. Apparently due to flight traffic--I see six planes in waiting. The Flight Hub needs to be expanded even more and sooner! @flightdelays

- Mehari Taddele Maru (@drmehari) April 17, 2018

Colonel Wosenyeleh Hunegna, Director General of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority on his part blamed the strike on "few undisciplined air traffic controllers who were misled by a journalist who came and interviewed them and took false information."

It is not clear which report Colonel Wesenyeleh is alluding to but he accused the unnamed journalist saying he "agitated" the employees with false accusations of the presence of "corruption during procurement procedures." "But those who said there were corruptions were themselves members of the procurement department," he told the state TV. He blamed the journalist all the way and complained that instead of verifying the information the journalist used false information and continued "agitating the employees to strike."

Air Traffic Controllers have been demanding better benefit packages for a long period of time. But government (Min. of Transport) has been giving them deaf ears. Their job is very stressful, working conditions are bad and the work poses adverse impact on their health.

- Bisrat Teshome (@_Bisre) April 17, 2018

Colonel Wosenyeleh also mentioned as reason a less publicized decision by the ministry Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) to cut part time payments and payments during public holidays to the employees, which was implemented by the Civil Aviation Authority. "There is also a complaint about that. We are working to take the correct measures," he said, but denied all flights were grounded and downplayed the report "as temporary delays." "I believe this will be fixed in short period of time." He called on all concerned bodies to work to end the stalemate. Addis Standard is attempting to reach out to striking employees and authorities. AS

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