Air traffic to be suspended during strike at Beirut airport

Airplanes are seen in the tarmac of Rafik Hariri International Airport. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BEIRUT: Barring several exceptions, inbound and outbound flights from Rafik Hariri International Airport will be suspended for a period of four hours Thursday due to strike action by staff members, the Beirut port said Tuesday.

"In line with the strike by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation and Air traffic controller on Thursday ... air traffic will be suspended during [the strike] except for Lebanese and foreign government planes, emergency cases and planes passing in Lebanese airspace," an airport statement said.

Air traffic controllers plan to disrupt flights at the airport on March 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A total of 13 flights will be affected as a result.

Their strike action will coincide with a major protest by civil servants and teachers in order to pressure the government to refer a new wage hike scale to Parliament.

In a statement released by the air traffic controllers, the airport staff urged the Lebanese government to include them in the new public wage scale, warning that they would gradually take escalatory measures until their demands are met.

The Union Coordination Committee, representing public sector employees and teachers, has maintained an open-ended strike since Feb. 13. The strike action has been accompanied by almost daily protests that have crippled the work at government offices and public schools.

The government has been stalling the referral of the new salary scale that was approved last year, arguing that it needs more time to secure the means of financing the pay raise.

According to the airport statement, the airline carriers scheduled to depart to Paris, Dubai, Bahrain, Doha and Kuwait and the carriers scheduled to arrive from Bahrain, Doha, Kuwait, Amman, Athens, Istanbul, and Cairo during the strike period will be affected.





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