Travellers in Poland are being warned of potential delays resulting from protests by air traffic controllers.

The delays and cancellations are concentrated in the nation’s capital, Warsaw, where flight controllers have been staging protests and, in some cases, resigning from their roles.

Since March, Warsaw’s Frederic Chopin Airport has seen 44 of its 216 controllers quit, and a whopping 130 are reportedly considering quitting this month.

Airspace safety inadequate

Flight controllers say protests are in response to the country’s airspace management body, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, not adequately ensuring airspace safety in the region. The failings allegedly came about as a result of changes made in January to the way the agency functions.

One of the changes made was the introduction of a new salary system, which has been criticised by staff. This is despite the agency still offering salaries of up to 45,000 PLN (€9,700) a month for the most experienced controllers.

air traffic controller protests at warsaw airport in poland
The protests are underway at Warsaw Chopin Airport, Poland’s busiest airport | © Vampir2011

In response to the crisis, a new head of the body was appointed on 31st March, and negotiations have been ongoing.

Poland’s state auditing body, NIK, is also reported to have found some irregularities in the body’s work, pointing to internal tensions between staff and controllers complaining of being overworked.

30-minute delays on average

Arrivals and departures into the country’s capital were delayed on average 30 minutes yesterday, as a result of staff shortages in the control tower, according to an airport spokesperson.

Poland’s Civil Aviation Authority has since issued a warning that disruption to flights is likely in the coming days.

A challenging period for Poland, March saw airspace over vast swaths of eastern regions of the country reserved for military uses in response to Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Subsequent airspace bans enforced by the EU and Russia have seen regular routing disrupted ever since.

What do you think about the Polish air traffic controllers’ protest? Let us know in the comments below.

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