Polish Government & CAA To Restrict Flights At Warsaw’s Airports Amid Dispute with ATCOs

Photo: PANSA
Photo: PANSA

WARSAW – If the dispute at the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) is not resolved quickly, from May 1, Warsaw’s airports will serve only 32 destinations.

The criteria adopted mean that these will mainly be routes operated by LOT Polish Airlines.

The new measures were introduced by the government in a regulation published late on Monday as the result of a conflict over pay and conditions with air traffic controllers, many of whom are threatening to leave their jobs at the end of April if their demands are not met.

Warsaw Chopin Airport, which will be welcoming flights between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and the Warsaw-Modlin airport will suffer most from the restrictions on air traffic that will have to be introduced from May 1 due to the possible lack of air traffic controllers.

Talks with the unions are still ongoing, but regulation has already been published restricting air traffic in the event of a disagreement.

As a matter of priority, flight operations will operate from and to the airports identified below and in the following order with priority given to 32 destinations:

  • 1) London – Heathrow (EGLL);
  • 2. London – Luton (EGGW);
  • 3. London-Stansted (EGSS);
  • 4. Frankfurt (EDDF);
  • 5) New York (KJFK);
  • 6) Chicago (KORD);
  • 7) Paris (LFPG);
  • 8) Brussels (EBBR);
  • 9) Istanbul (LTFM);
  • 10) Rome (LIRF);
  • 11) Amsterdam (EHAM);
  • 12) Toronto (CYYZ);
  • 13) Dubai (OMDB);
  • 14) Seoul-Inchon (RKSI);
  • 15) Munich (EDDM);
  • 16) Rzeszów (EPRZ);
  • 17) Vienna (LOWW);
  • 18) Tel Aviv (LLBG);
  • 19) Oslo (ENGM);
  • 20) Zurich (LSZH);
  • 21) Dublin (EIDW);
  • 22) Copenhagen (EKCH);
  • 23) Budapest (LHBP);
  • 24) Vilnius (EYVI);
  • 25) Prague (LKPR);
  • 26) Bucharest (LROP);
  • 27) Düsseldorf (EDDL);
  • 28) Barcelona (LEBL);
  • 29) Lisbon (LPPT);
  • 30) Tbilisi (UGTB);
  • 31) Berlin (EDDB);
  • 32) Szczecin-Goleniów (EPSC).

If there is a possibility of performing air operations beyond the above-mentioned and it will not cause the declared capacity to be exceeded, air operations from and to airports other than those specified above can be performed at Chopin Airport.

In such a case, the decision on slot allocation will be made by the Chopin Airport coordinator.

In the case of air operations on routes from and to the above-mentioned airports, it is permitted to perform on a given route only once a day, by one air carrier that has carried the largest number of passengers on a given route in the years 2019-2021.

32 destinations on the list = LOT domination

The Polish Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has revealed the list of routes from Chopin Airport and Warsaw-Modlin Airport which carriers will fly after May 1 in the event that the conflict at PANSA is not resolved.

Photo Credit: Author

Among the 32 destinations highlighted in the regulation, routes operated by LOT dominate.

The airline will fly to a total of 19 cities around the world, among them Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest, Chicago, Duesseldorf, Copenhagen, London-Heathrow, New York, Oslo, Prague, Rzeszów, Seoul-Inchon, Szczecin-Goleniów, Tbilisi, Tel Aviv, Toronto, and Vilnius.

Ryanair and Wizz Air will operate two flights each. The low-cost carrier from Ireland will fly from Modlin to Dublin and London-Stansted, while the Hungarian LCC will offer flights from Chopin Airport to London-Luton and Rome Fiumicino.

Moreover, Lufthansa will fly from Warsaw to its main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, Air France to Paris, Austrian Airlines to Vienna, Emirates to Dubai, TAP Air Portugal to Lisbon, and Turkish Airlines to Istanbul.

On the above-mentioned routes, according to the regulation published on April 25, it is allowed to perform a priority take-off or landing operation only once a day, by one air carrier that carried the highest number of passengers on the route in the years 2019-2021.

Additional flights to Warsaw and Modlin airports may be performed on other routes provided that air navigation services are provided and the declared capacity of the TMA Warszawa is not exceeded.

Due to the fact that during the scheduled operation of airports (from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) up to 24 flight operations (take-offs and landings) may take place per hour, it will be possible to perform up to 180 flight operations per day.

Once this number of operations has been used up, up to 116 slots should remain available for further use on the destinations listed in the regulation.

Flight Operations May Reduce By Two-Thirds…

The explanatory memorandum reads that the Polish airspace is available to all its users on an equal basis and that the freedom of flight for civil aircraft may be restricted only on the basis of express authorization from the Aviation Law, while respecting the provisions of other laws and international agreements binding the Republic of Poland, including resolutions of international organizations.

Due to the expected lack of continuity of air navigation services in the controlled area of Warsaw/Modlin Airport (EPMO) and Warsaw Chopin Airport (EPWA), hereinafter referred to as “TMA Warszawa”, as of 1 May 2022 and the expected reduction of the declared capacity of TMA Warszawa, it is necessary to take immediate actions to ensure the safety of air traffic while ensuring the greatest possible availability of scheduled air services.

The above-mentioned lack of continuity in the provision of air navigation services will result from the expected insufficient number of air traffic controllers employed by the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency to operate air traffic within TMA Warszawa.

For these reasons, the number of operations possible at Warsaw Chopin Airport (EPWA) and Warsaw/Modlin Airport (EPMO) will have to be significantly reduced.

It is expected that on 5 May 2022 from the planned number of 510 operations, about 2/3 of operations will have to be canceled due to the lack of availability of air navigation services. In order to effectively use the available capacity of the TMA Warszawa, it is, therefore, necessary to introduce restrictions on air traffic.

However, the restrictions introduced must be of a non-discriminatory nature and must lead to the operation of air connections which are of particular importance for passengers and citizens of Poland and the EU, as well as for the efficient functioning of the Republic of Poland, taking due account of the wide range of circumstances currently prevailing.

The current state of affairs does not reflect, apart from the restrictions on flights from Russia, other restrictions on air traffic justified by an important foreign policy interest of the Republic of Poland, defensive and security reasons of the Republic of Poland, an important economic interest of the Republic of Poland or obligations of Poland under international agreements, including in particular binding resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations adopted on the basis of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.

The solutions implemented are intended to respond to a factual situation that may, with high probability, occur on 1 May 2022 due to the termination of employment relationships with a significant number of air traffic controllers.

Apart from the aforementioned ban on the entry into Polish airspace of aircraft used by air carriers from Russia, the legislation in force does not introduce other bans or restrictions.

Monday’s talks without result

On 25 April in the evening PANSA and its biggest ATCO’s union ZZKRL, as was the case with previous negotiation rounds, published a joint announcement at the end of the day.

It was agreed that safety issues are not only 24, initialed postulates of the social side, but also issues of proper work organization, work culture, and protection of whistleblowers.

It was also noted that talks on wage conditions are ongoing. The next round of talks will take place on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has ruled out his participation in the negotiations:

“We must consider whether we agree to all the conditions of the controllers. We cannot let ourselves be forced, blackmailed,” the head of government stressed in Polsat’s Guest of Events. The PM does not expect to personally interfere in the negotiations with the ATCOs. – I receive information from minister Adamczyk every day,” added Morawiecki, who was approached by trade unionists who were bitter about minister Andrzej Adamczyk’s speech during a parliamentary subcommittee on Monday.

As a result of the months-long dispute at PANSA, 180 of the 208 Warsaw ATCOs have given their notice or have not agreed to amend notices. 44 controllers’ notice periods expired at the end of March, but another 136 are due to leave at the end of April, which could lead to an almost complete and total shortage at Poland’s largest airport.

Katowice: 95% of flights were not threatened in MayEnter Air will transfer 100 operations from Warsaw

Katowice Airport is preparing for an emergency plan that will be implemented from 1 May if the conflict at the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency is not resolved by then.

As Piotr Adamczyk, a spokesman for the Katowice Airport, tweeted, 95 percent of flights will continue to operate from next month. However, there may be flight delays.

Charter carrier Enter Air is planning to move 100 Warsaw flight operations scheduled for May to Katowice.

“The mass cancellation of flights will be a problem on a European scale and it will require adaptation to this situation,” Grzegorz Polaniecki confessed for Rynek Lotniczego.

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