West Africa: Flights Grounded Amid Air Traffic Control Strike

Airports in several West and Central African countries were affected as air traffic controllers held a strike to demand improved working conditions.

A strike of air traffic controllers on Friday grounded flights in and out of airports in several West and Central African countries.

The Union of Air Traffic Controllers’ Unions of Asecna (USYCAA) launched the strike Friday morning at 0800 GMT to demand better working conditions.

The strike by the staff of the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), which regulates air traffic control across 18 African countries, was expected to last for 48 hours.

Flights in and out of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Cameroon, among other countries, were affected.

‘Minimum service’ offered

The USYCAA said its members would cease providing services to all but “sensitive” flights until their demands are met.

A USYCAA official in Burkina Faso told the AFP news agency that “the minimum service” was being provided for military and humanitarian flights.

Some African airlines were scheduled to depart and arrive at the affected airports, according to tracking websites. However, several Air France and Turkish Airlines flights were canceled.

Some passengers were reportedly stranded in Lome, Togo.

Banned strike

Court rulings and government bans across the affected countries had been expected to bar the strike.

According to a leader of striking Senegalese air traffic controllers, authorities arrested some union members in Cameroon, Congo and the Comoros.

ASCENA described the action as a “wildcat strike” that went ahead despite court prohibition.

“We have already exhausted both administrative and institutional remedies in the management of this crisis, but we have in front of us trade unionists who are stubborn to do whatever they want,” ASECNA’s head of human resources, Ceubah Guelpina, told a press conference.

fb/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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