Pristina Airport hit by industrial action


The union of air traffic controllers at Pristina Airport has been staging industrial action over the past few days, leading to numerous flight cancellations and disruptions. The strike, which began on Wednesday, continued into Thursday and Friday. Although the union said it would suspend the walkout on Friday afternoon to allow for talks with the government to take place, numerous flights were cancelled on Saturday, including those by Adria Airways, Turkish Airlines and Eurowings, amongst others. The strike hours have been extended each day since the protest began, lasting for up to twelve hours. The strike action will not take place today due to a national holiday, but the union has threatened with further work stoppages next week.

Air traffic controllers are demanding higher wages, in line with European standards, while opposing a new law on salaries. Over the past few weeks, almost the entire public sector in Kosovo has experienced industrial action. Early this month, Kosovo’s parliament passed a public wage law that would raise salaries for teachers, doctors and other state workers, from November. However, under the law, other sectors such as air traffic controllers could sustain pay cuts. “We are already paid half of what other air traffic controllers are getting in other regional countries such as Albania or Macedonia”, Artan Hasani, the head of the Trade Union of Air Traffic Controllers, said.

Mr Hasani noted that the strike by 23 controllers would continue next week on February 22, 23 and 24, lasting twelve hours at a time. Previously, the union threatened to stop all work on Monday for an entire 24 hours, however, these plans are unlikely to materialise. Kosovo's Infrastructure Ministry, as well as the Civil Aviation Authority of Kosovo, have appealed for the air traffic controllers to suspend their strike. It comes at what is traditionally a busy week for Pristina Airport due to the national holiday and the influx of diaspora travellers. Earlier this month, Pristina Airport's busiest airline, Germania, suspended all operations, however, the majority of its Pristina flights have now been taken over by other carriers, most notably Orange2Fly.

Comments

  1. How much are they paid?

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    1. Pay should be the least of their worries.

      Negligence and mismanagement at Kosovo ATC is on a massive scale.

      Air traffic control has effectively been handed to relatives of Adem Jashari's family (yes the person after who Pristina Airport is named). Jobs have been handed out to relatives of Kosovar politicians and to friends and family of senior managers, regardless of their qualifications. There is huge mismanagement of assets and budgets, the payment of salaries for employees who never came to work and a mismanaged 7 million euro contract to relocate radar equipment and software. Many senior ANSA managers, past and present, had helped relatives get hired at the airport.

      ATC in Pristina is also working on sub-standard software because the contract with the radar supplier, TCN, had ended before the hardware had been integrated. That has left them working on a different signal to other airports in the Balkans.

      ANSA deputy director is Shpetim Selmanaj is a member of Prime Minister Haradinaj’s co-ruling AAK party.

      There are frequent blackouts at ATC because Limak never installed a back up generator which it is required to by the concession contract. But don't get me started on Limak. That is a whole new story of high level corruption in cooperation between Turks and the government.

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    2. OMG this is scandalous even by Balkan standards!

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    3. Unfortunately it is a similar story in many institutions.

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    4. Well this could a reason why some major airlines have not started flying to PRN.

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    5. I don't know about that but it's the reason why tens of thousands are waiting for the new law in Germany to come into force so they can all move.

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    6. Anonymous at 11:51
      +1000

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    7. Jesus Christ that's bad. The worst part is that it won't change any time soon and that is why 40.000 mostly young people (Serbs and Albanians) are getting ready to flee and look for more opportunities elsewhere.

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  2. Some flights have diverted to Skopje these last couple of days.

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  3. This is the best opportunity Skopje has of overtaking Pristina.

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    1. I think with 4 new Wizz routes from next month SKP will overtake Pristina anyway - strike or no strike.

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    2. SKP Dreaming!

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    3. Why dreaming? I think it's quite realistic mainly because of Wizz Air.

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    4. Ironically Skopje's growth over past few years has been overwhelmingly generated by the Albanian population who are main customers on Wizz flights from Skopje.

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  4. It hasn't been the best of starts to the year for PRN. First Germania goes bankrupt, now this.

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    1. And to be honest, they should look more at attracting decent airlines and not orange2flies and the likes no one has ever heard of.

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    2. Beggars can't be choosers. If PRN is unable to offer the same subsidies as SKP to attract W6 and new routes it should be happy with any airline is willing to serve it without subsidies.
      Especially after Germania's closure.

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    3. Anonymous at 10:01
      +1000
      When the airline that carried over 20% of your traffic goes bankrupt you welcome everyone who wants to launch flights from your airport!

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  5. It will be interesting to see if there will be negative growth in February. January was very strong.

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    1. How many passengers were there in January?

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    2. Last part of the article: https://www.exyuaviation.com/2019/02/wizz-air-registers-strong-pristina.html

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    3. Thanks. Quite good results. I think in Feb they manage maybe 1-2% increase. We will see.

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  6. They are disillusioned, there is no money for higher salaries! They forget where they live and what the standard of living is like.

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    1. The airport makes enough money for the controllers to get paid. They should get higher wages and stop striking

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    2. But the controllers have nothing to do with the airport. The controllers are paid by the government. They are state employees.

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    3. Controllers only work on the airport's premises but are in no way linked to the airport.

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    4. ANSA is largely in charge of the Air Traffic Control Tower, while Limak manages the airport itself.

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    5. Kosovo is a poor country still largely relying on foreign donations. The striking controllers should look how their fellow citizens live and see how much better off they are.

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    6. Anonymous 17 February 2019 at 10:03
      +1

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  7. Good that they gave up on the idea of a 24 hour strike. That would have been a disaster.

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    1. I wouldn't be so quick. They also said they wouldn't strike on Saturday but flights were still cancelled.

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  8. Government should be very careful. Kosovo controllers are paid very little compared to other colleagues. There used to be 26 controllers but the other three have already moved to work in the Gulf. These are all young people working in ATC. If this situation continues even more will move and there will be no one able to do this job.

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    1. I am sure there are plenty of young people in Kosovo who would like to become ATC employees and enjoy the way higher than average wages.

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    2. You do realize you need a proper training for this that last for a long time? If 10 people quit they can't just like that pick up someone from the street who will start working next week.

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    3. They should make sure that people who receive expensive training paid by the state should be obliged to work for a minimum period of 10-15 years. Otherwise they should pay back the money that the state paid for their training.

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    4. That is called slavery.

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    5. No it is not! It happens all over Europe and the US.
      If the state is spending tens of thousands of Euros for your training it is expected that it is going to receive your services for a period of time.
      For those services you are getting paid way, way more the vast majority of your fellow citizens do.
      So please, try to use basic logic before posting.

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    6. Period of time, yes, but not 15 years. Typical training bonds in aviation are between 3 and 5 years.

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  9. Doesn't seem the government is very interested in resolving the issue. I'm guessing we will see more strikes next week.

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    1. They have bigger issues. It's questionable if there will be a government next week.

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    2. I don't think so this won't take too long, it's just a request from ATC employees for the government to increase their payment and it's true ATC should make more money.

      No big deal! Next week government decide and they'll continue normal like all ATC's around Europe.

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    3. Let's hope so, we will see but I'm not so optimistic. Because there are many asking for their wages to be increased. If they increase to ATC then they will have to do the same for many others and that's not feasible.

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  10. Good news for SKP :-)

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  11. Yesterday's cancelled flights were Swiss from Geneva, Adria from Ljubljana, Eurowings from Hannover and some Tri-MG Intra Asia Airlines from Geneva.

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  12. It is a much bigger issue that the ATC tower in PRN does not have a back up generator. Even small grocery shops have them. Why don't controllers protest about this?

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    1. Because why should they? When there is no electricity it's an opportunity to go on a break and planes will land once they are back.

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    2. I hope you're sarcastic

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    3. No, I am not actually. Most don't care anymore, why should they when the sitaution is hopeless. Why do you think people are going on a strike?

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  13. Must say the terminal interior looks really nice in the photo

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  14. Hopefully our won't last long

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  15. Oh so that explains why Adria has cancelled flights to PRN these last couple of days.

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