in Air Transport / ATM & Regulatory

Ethiopia ATC strike over amid intense safety fears

Posted 5 September 2018 · Add Comment

A strike by Ethiopian air traffic controllers is believed to have ended today with most controllers having returned to work ending intense safety criticism from the international aviation community.


Nine senior controllers are believed to have been jailed and returning controllers forced to sign an ‘admission’ of illegal strike action in return for amnesty.
Pilots and ATC operators in Africa had been expressing concern over the situation in Ethiopian airspace as a result of a strike.
Confidential reporting websites had indicated rising worries about the interim measures being taken by the Ethiopian Government which, they claim, has denied any increase in risk.
According to OpsGroup – the US based international site with 50,000 Pilots, Dispatchers, Schedulers, Ops Officers, Managers, Air Traffic Controllers, and Technical officers reported this week that “The enroute centre (HAAA/Addis FIR) and the main tower (HAAB/Bole Airport) are staffed by a mix of retired, unqualified, and trainee controllers. Neighbouring centres, like Nairobi, have written letters with long lists of unsafe and non-standard coordination. In short, they don't know how to handle the traffic.”
In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines said: “Ethiopian Airlines Group, the largest aviation group in Africa and number 24 in the world, would like to reassure its customers and the general travelling public that the Ethiopian Airspace remains very safe and highly secured even after the illegal strike of the Ethiopian Air Traffic Controllers ... all Ethiopian Airlines scheduled and unscheduled flights and other airlines operating to/from Ethiopia have been operating smoothly with high standards of flight punctuality and safety. We would like to inform all our customers that we did not have any flight delay or cancellation caused by ATC. In fact, we are happy to announce that taxi-in, taxi-out and flight arrivals efficiency has improved significantly in the week under ATC strike."
The president and CEO of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association (IFATCA), Patrik Peters, sent a letter to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Transport Minister citing the safety concerns of neighbouring countries over the use of unqualified controllers and reminding the Ethiopian government of the tragic circumstances when France did the same thing in 1973 leading to the death of 68 people and a boycott of French air space. He called on them to return to the negotiating table.
Kenya was one of the harshest critics with controllers warning that flights in and out of Addis Ababa “are not safe” and specifically warning that the ‘possibility of air misses’ is real.

 

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