Flight controllers’ holidays to cause summer delays

Sweden's largest air traffic control centre is warning of long flight delays over the summer - because so many staff are on holiday.

According to Swedish Radio’s Ekot, all charter flights to Greece, Turkey and Rumania will be affected as well as other traffic over the Baltic Sea.

“Our problem is that we don’t have enough air traffic controllers over the summer, and that’s because of both holidays and an unusually high number of people on parental leave,” said Alf Månsson, head of air traffic control at Sturup airport, outside Malmö.

Månsson told Ekot that the centre was now trying to postpone as many staff holidays as possible. But he pointed out that where parental leave is concerned, the law protects people’s rights to take the time off when they choose.

The worst delayed flights will be those departing from Arlanda and delays could be up to two hours. Flights to Asia will be diverted slightly and should remain more or less unaffected.

In the spring of this year a new air traffic control system was introduced. Over the last few months staff at the centre have been trained on the new system while operating the old one, and many have chalked up significant amounts of overtime in the process.

“We can’t recruit because it takes three and a half years to train an air traffic controller – so we can’t solve it by quickly taking on temps,” explained Alf Månsson.

“We have to use the people we have.”

Månsson told Swedish Radio that the air traffic control centre will be providing information about delays through the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority web site throughout the summer.

Sources: SR, Svenska Dagbladet