September 25, 2008

Flights Helpline Opens As Strike Set to Close Airport


A CUSTOMER helpline has been set up for passengers affected by the closure of City of Derry Airport by a strike this week.

And, as the strike by council workers draws near, a trade union official in the city has called the pay offer to council workers derisory and said that it will "plunge many people into poverty."

Liam Gallagher of UNITE and the Derry Trades Council was speaking before the local government workers come out on strike tomorrow.

Local government workers are striking over a final pay rise offer of 2.45% that will leave them substantially below the rate of inflation at 4.1%.

Mr Gallagher fears that many public sector workers - mostly women - will suffer heavily with the increase in prices in electricity, petrol, food and mortgages. Workers will be striking on Wednesday and Thursday this week from 8.30am.

Mr Gallagher said: "We're asking workers to come out on strike Wednesday and Thursday in relation to a derisory 2.45% offer which was made by local government employers and they have stated it is the final offer."

"Our argument is that if they can find Pounds 50bn at the stroke of a pen to bail out Northern Rock and Pounds 250bn has been put on offer to the mortgage and financial sector then there should be no problem finding Pounds 10bn to help local government workers who are at the coal face."

City of Derry airport will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday as staff take part in the nationwide strike.

In a statement the City of Derry Airport apologised for the disruption to passengers and called for the public's support and undertsanding.

Speaking about the impending closure of the airport acting Town Clerk, John Meehan, said: "The consequences of UNITE union not providing exemption for staff at City of Derry Airport will have a huge impact on everyone throughout the region."

The helpline will operate throughout the week from 9am to 9pm today and Wednesday and from 9am to 5pm on Thursday. The number to call is 028 7130 5039. The airport website will also provide regular updates of information. All airport flights will resume as normal on July 18.

To date the following services have been cancelled: there will be no BA/Loganair services to Dublin or Glasgow - passengers who had booked will be contaced directly about re-booking - while the Falcon/ JWT/First Choice Holiday Charter Service on July 16 to and from Reus, Spain, will operate via Belfast International Airport. Passengers arriving from Reus on Wednesday July 16 will be transferred to City of Derry airport by bus.

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