September 25, 2008

Strike Shuts Derry Airport for Two Days

By David Young

Hundreds of air passengers were last night advised to make alternative arrangements after it was confirmed that the City of Derry Airport will close later this week due to strike action.

The Derry City Council-owned facility will shut on Wednesday and Thursday after last ditch attempts to reach a resolution to the ongoing public service workers pay dispute failed.

While some airlines have cancelled their scheduled flights, others are operating out of Belfast International Airport for the duration of the strike.

A range of public services across Northern Ireland will be hit as local government employees join their colleagues in England and Wales on the 48-hour stoppage.

Airlines operating out of Derry last night issued the following information:

* BA/Loganair advised passengers that its services to Glasgow and Dublin are cancelled on both days. Customers are advised to contact the airlines regarding re-booking and accommodation issues.

* Falcon/JWT/First Choice Holiday Charter Service to and from Reus on Wednesday will operate via Belfast International Airport. Departing Passengers will be transferred by coach from City of Derry Airport.

* All Ryanair flights have been cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday. The airline said passengers affected by these cancellations will be accommodated on Ryanair flights to/from Belfast; or they can re-schedule their flights for alternative dates free of charge or avail of a full refund.

Ryanair's Stephen McNamara branded the strike unnecessary and damaging. He said: "At a time when oil is $140 a barrel, tourism is under pressure and Derry is losing traffic to the two Belfast airports, the last thing we need is a strike which closes the airport and encourages passengers to use Belfast City instead."

Members of UK union Unite have rejected their employer's offer of a 2.45% pay increase and are demanding 6% or 50p an hour, whichever is the greater.

Albert Mills of the union said: "Unite have a strong and consistent position on this pay deal which we believe is not in the interests of our members."

The lowest grade worker in local government is paid Pounds 5.81 per hour, just a few pence above the minimum wage, Mr Mills added.

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