Strikes the dispatchers in the peak days of summer season made the passengers quite angry, causing huge delays and financial losses for carriers. On the occasion of the new 24-hour strike, which dispatchers had announced a week ago but was rejected by the prosecution as illegal, grreporter.info spoke with the Secretary General of the Union of the air traffic controllers in Greece Yannis Kourmoulakis about the requests of the dispatchers. The organization of the airport in Greece is not at the necessary level to merge with the services of the other three countries - Italy, Cyprus and Malta which are included in a joint program with Greece for the control of a future unified airspace, which was offered by the European Union, he said. In an interview he gave, it becomes clear that the European Union would penalize states for the delay of flights since the beginning of 2012 with fines for each delay of the aircrafts which remain on the flight strip longer than expected, which fine would be in the amount of 1200 dollars per minute.
Mr. Kourmoulakis, what are the requests of your union in relation to?
Air transport in general in Greece belong to Eurocontrol, which service takes care of the organization of air transport in Europe. The European Commission Eurocontrol may propose some rules which in the beginning were directives, and subsequently they took the form of regulations. In 2004 was issued a book of regulations for flexibility, speed and economics of air transport. We are now in a period of adjustment to the results of this ordinances, because in terms of structure and system we are very much laying behind in comparison with the other countries from the European Union. It is very difficult to change the attitudes and organization. If you start to build a house and you set the foundation wrongfully, then the house will not last - and our situation is the same. We in Greece do not have the courage to change. We have a hut and in order to build a building, we should destroy it. But in Greece we think to repair a bit our hut to make the roof, to put a beam or two. It doesn’t work like that. The same happens to the health sector because the government feared the political price. It fears the structural changes because there you always need to sacrifice something – it is either the personnel or some financial gain, and there it has difficulty to make changes.
We have to change many things right now - trying to be adapt, we are cooperating with four countries - Greece, Italy, Malta and Cyprus. We - these four countries, received a directive from the EU to create a unified airspace that will be managed by common administrative center. This means that we will have common training, same equipment, same procedures, same conditions of security and equal conditions of payment. Imagine that we have four small schools in one area which we have to merge and in them work 24 teachers. But if they merge they can work with only 15 teachers and thus we will make savings, we will become faster and will have the opportunity for enhanced security. The parameters that we are interested in are speed, security and economy.
In late 2011 and early 2012 we will enter the initial stage of this procedure when we will need to initiate these services and problems will emerge - reduction of personnel, tension will be created, because no one knows how the dialogue will go, because all this work is done to reduce the cost of air transport. We are currently in negotiations with the Ministry of Transport, but also with other countries because we have not so far ahead with the organization, as are Italy and Malta and partly Cyprus. At one point, a unified governing body will be created, which will have staff from all four countries and will make decisions, allocate duties. With this association of the four countries, my office will have to come closer to the way operation in those countries in order for the mergers to go smoothly. We have a lot of weaknesses in our organization and it is harder for us to adapt, we are having problems. In the summer we made several protest - one of which on July 24th and 25th, which was on Saturday and Sunday and then there were very long delays of the airplanes. This week we will have a meeting with the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Mr Spyros Vouyas and we will see what happens. We are expecting a bill under which the organization will change.