Polish PM urges compromise in traffic controllers dispute

Mateusz Marek/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, has appealed for compromise between protesting air traffic controllers and the state air navigation agency PAZP as Warsaw faces severe flight cuts.

The controllers have been protesting for several weeks now, demanding higher wages and better working conditions and threatening they will refuse to renew their contracts, which expire on April 30, if their demands are not met.

This has spurred the government to prepare a contingency plan that could see cancellation of two-thirds of flights to and from Warsaw's two airports.

"I'm urging you all to show an attitude of compromise and to strike a compromise with (Infrastructure Minister Andrzej) Adamczyk," Morawiecki said at a press conference on Tuesday, while yet another round of talks between the controllers and PAZP was taking place.

"If it comes to the cancellation of some flights, we'll be trying to compensate for the loss of money, at least in part, to the people who have already paid for such flights," the prime minister said.

According to Morawiecki, there are about 200 air traffic controllers in Warsaw and their monthly wages are about PLN 45,000 (EUR 9,689), on average.

"The situation of our controllers is one of the best compared to other air traffic controllers in other EU countries, both in terms of wages, rest time, additional training and so on," Morawiecki said.

Under the government's contingency plan, only 11 airlines flying on 32 routes in total will be allowed to land at Warsaw Chopin and Modlin airports from May 1. Landings and take-offs would only take place in a 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. window.