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Greek air controllers slowdown hits Cyprus flights

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Greek air controllers slowdown hits Cyprus flights

Postby Gasman » Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:51 pm

NICOSIA, July 26 (Reuters) - A work to rule protest by Greek air traffic controllers over austerity-driven reforms in their sector has disrupted hundreds of flights in and out of Cyprus.

Cyprus national carrier Cyprus Airways said more than a dozen flights were cancelled on Monday and airport operators said over 300 flights had been delayed since Sunday.

Greek air space is the only avenue available to Cypriot carriers flying to Europe since Turkish air space lying directly to the island's north is closed to Cypriot commercial traffic.

Greek controllers cancelled a planned 24-hour strike on Sunday but instead launched work to rule with avoidance of overtime and strict adherence to air space capacity guidelines. They said their action was trimming the numbers of flights they handle by about 10 percent daily. Their union would decide later on Monday if it would continue the labour action.

"Our only way out to Europe is over the Aegean. We cannot avoid Greek air space," said Cyprus Airways spokesman Kyriakos Kyriakou.

He said Turkish air space has been closed to Cypriot carriers since 1974, when Turkey invaded Cyprus's north after a short Greek-inspired coup on the eastern Mediterranean island.

Delays experienced by Cyprus Airways were compounded by regulations stipulating 12 hour shifts for airline crews. The delays were consuming shift times, and depleting available staff levels, the airline said.

In Greece, airport officials said over 40 flights had been delayed by up to 30 minutes since midnight on Sunday.

The air traffic controllers are demanding more jobs and payment for overtime, against a reform plan meant to reorganise the civil aviation sector to make it more competitive.

Greece's labour unions have staged repeated strikes this year against austerity measures the debt-hobbled country has agreed with the IMF and its euro zone partners in return for a 110 billion euro ($138 billion) bailout.
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