Air traffic controllers in Senegal on Friday shut down the newly inaugurated airport in the capital Dakar saying they were striking to protect travellers after they received inadequate training before the facility opened this month.
The government says the new $680 million airport, which opened on Dec. 7, will help make Senegal a transport hub in West Africa and boost the country’s tourism sector.
The head of the company that manages the airport LAS (Limak-AIBD-Summa) said at least 5,000 passengers had been affected and the strike action was bad for the airport and for country’s image.
With (air) traffic interrupted, it means some 30 flights won't come here today, that's around 5,000 passengers, so of course it's an important loss for the airport.
But the president of the union representing the airport’s air traffic controllers,Mame Alioune Sene said his members had called a 24-hour strike “for people’s security.”
Head of Turkish-Senegalese Consortium Limak-Aibd-Summa, Xavier mary said the strike is not a good image for Senegal.
“With (air) traffic interrupted, it means some 30 flights won’t come here today, that’s around 5,000 passengers, so of course it’s an important loss for the airport but first and foremost it’s an incredible inconvenience for passengers and for the airlines. So of course we deplore this situation since it presents a bad image of Senegal, a bad image of the airport, which is new,” he said.
The union is demanding increased stipends for employees’ transport to the airport, which lies some 45 km outside the city centre.
President of the Air Traffic Controllers Union, Mame Alioune said they are doing the maximum with the equipment adding that the danger is still there.
“On the training side, controllers whose responsibility it is to ensure air security has already been trained at college and are capable. But it’s not enough. We need equipment in the control tower to help us do our job correctly. In Diass, there is new, latest generation equipment that has been installed. We have not been trained on that equipment,” he added.
The airport is Senegal’s busiest and the strike is likely to affect scheduled flights by international carriers, including Air France and Ethiopian Airlines.