The controversial leader of Norway’s air traffic controllers, Åge Røde, has decided to resign as his colleagues’ representative, after state aviation agency Avinor went to court to get him fired. Avinor has claimed that Røde was behind the work slowdowns last summer that delayed or cancelled flights, stranded many passengers and led to huge losses for the airlines.
Røde has consistently denied that he did anything illegal, or, for example, intentionally organized work schedules so that too few air traffic controllers would be on duty during the busy summer travel season. The air traffic controllers’ union (Flygelederforeningen) contended Røde was instead a whistle-blower, who drew attention to severe staffing problems at Avinor.
Robert Gjønnes of the union told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that now Røde has decided to step down. “The reason is that he’s on leave from his job as an air traffic controller,” Gjønnes said. “He therefore isn’t operative and can’t stay up to date on everything that’s happening.”
Avinor claimed Røde had resorted to dirty tricks in the control tower, leading to inadequate staffing to handle air traffic and adding to the pressure during pay negotiations. Røde also was angry at his union’s own negotiators and ridiculed a pay raise of around NOK 20,000. The union had agreed to the new wage agreement in early July that angered Røde. A few weeks later, air traffic all but ground to a halt because of staffing problems, in the midst of Norway’s annual summer holiday season.