Poland dodges flight chaos as controllers reach interim deal

2 minute read

Aircrafts are seen grounded at the Warsaw airport April 16, 2010. REUTERS/Petr Josek/File Photo

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

WARSAW, April 28 (Reuters) - Polish air traffic controllers have reached a deal with the government that means they will keep working until July 10, a union representative said on Thursday, averting mass flight cancellations ahead of a busy May bank holiday weekend.

Travel chaos had been expected from May 1, the day after the end of a notice period for air traffic controllers who chose to quit rather than accept new working regulations that they said threatened safety.

"We have managed to reach an agreement," a union representative told a parliamentary commission. "We must realise that this is not the end of the battle."

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Under the terms of the agreement, the air traffic controllers have had their notice period extended to July 10, while the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) will start an organisational audit and restructuring. The parties will continue to discuss regulations over pay and working practices.

The Polish government had passed a decree that would have drastically cut the number of flights at Warsaw's two airports from May 1.

"I hope the effects of this decree will be withdrawn tomorrow," said Infrastructure Minister Andrzej Adamczyk.

He said PANSA had agreed to the controllers' pay returning to pre-pandemic levels. Controllers' salaries had been cut due to fewer flights flown during the pandemic.

Airlines that would potentially have been affected by the reduction in flights include LOT Polish Airlines, Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) and Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), which all operate out of Chopin airport, and Ryanair (RYA.I), which flies out of Modlin.

The dispute also was related to proposed changes to working practices, including an increase in the maximum number of hours that air traffic controllers could work in a shift.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Alan Charlish, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Pawel Florkiewicz Editing by Gareth Jones and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.