The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has voiced its concern regarding the consequences of the overtime ban of Icelandic air traffic controllers, according to Morgunblaðið.
“Iceland is committed to providing safe, economical and uninterrupted service,” stated Guðni Sigurðsson, a representative for Isavia, the company that operates Keflavík International Airport. In order to fulfill the safety requirement, part of air traffic has had to be redirected south of Icelandic airspace when shifts have not been manned. That makes the flight route less economical.
The overtime ban, which is the result of a labor dispute between air traffic controllers and Isavia, has been in effect since April 6. Whenever an air traffic controller calls in sick, the overtime ban prevents a substitute from being be hired. The ban has affected 3,000 flights between Europe and North America. The ensuing increase in fuel costs for international airlines has amounted to more than ISK 1 billion (USD 8 million, EUR 7.1 million).
Katrín Ólafsdóttir, PhD in labor economics and assistant professor at Reykjavík University, asserted, “There are few places in the world with as much reliance on overtime as Iceland.” She calls the methods used by air traffic controllers in their labor fight “work-to-rule methods,” where staff follows the rules but slows down operation without breaking any law.
The state negotiator has scheduled a negotiating meeting for tomorrow, and it’s Isavia’s hope that an agreement will be reached as soon as possible.
Þorsteinn Víglundsson, CEO of SA-Business Iceland, which represents Isavia in the dispute, claims the negotiations have reached a dead end and that air traffic controllers have so far rejected all offers from SA-Business Iceland.