Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen along with airports in Trondheim and Bergen were spared new strike action by ground personnel on Thursday, but air traffic control delays continue to loom because of short staffing in the towers.
More than 200 members of the labour union Handel og Kontor were poised to strike over pay and benefits, but they reached agreement with employers’ organization NHO after negotiations that extended several hours beyond a strike deadline. A strike would have affected ground services for several airlines including Norwegian, KLM, British Airways, Brussels Airlines and United Airlines.
Delays continue to hit OSL Gardermoen, however, and they can quickly spread to other airports around Norway because of a lack of air traffic controllers. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported this week, for example, how the absence of one air traffic controller on Monday delayed flights by as much as a half-hour.
Airlines keep complaining that the air traffic control system run by civil aviation agency Avinor is much too vulnerable to employee absence. Delays were chronic last summer, but the head of the air traffic controllers’ union was found guilty by a labour court this week of leading illegal work slowdowns that led to the traffic problems. The union (Norsk Flygelederforening) was ordered to remove Åge Røde, who had denied the charges, and pay NOK 375,000 in court and legal costs to the employers’ organization Spekter, which filed the charges against him.