The landing and take-off routes of some flights to and from Budapest have become remarkably longer since the end of July. This is probably related to the fact that a government decree was introduced two weeks ago that bans the planned strike of air traffic controllers demanding higher wages; as a result of which, the trade union might take “revenge” accordingly.
Since the government decree that bans the strike for air traffic controllers was introduced at the end of July,
it has been frequently observed that aircrafts make larger bends and loops near Budapest Airport.
By way of example, the route of the Dubai-Budapest flight was almost straight from May to July; however, in August, it reached Budapest Airport only with significant bends. Recently, a similar bypass has been observed on the Rodos-Budapest route as well. In addition to low-cost flights, extra detours can be experienced in the case of private planes as well.
These detours are assigned to the aircrafts by the air controllers. Originally, the longer routes are regularly assigned in accordance with the safety regulations, but they are usually used only when the airspace over the Hungarian capital is overwhelmed, or they are assigned in preparation if the radio connection is lost and the pilot needs to land without the help of the controllers.
As we previously reported, the demand for air travel has been growing steadily this summer. Accordingly, the traffic of Budapest Airport increased by 97% compared to the same period of the previous year. However, the number of aircraft movements is still significantly lower than the record number registered in the pre-covid period, based on which, airspace congestion does not necessarily serve as the explanation for the detours.
According to the Hungarian news portal 24.hu, the reason for the longer aircraft routes might be the intention of “massive slowdown”, generated by air traffic controllers as an act of revenge.
Still, the new phenomenon can cause serious extra expenses for airlines, not to mention the significant delays as a result.
Air traffic controllers would have gone on strike for an indefinite period on 27th July, after the Budapest Capital Court declared their planned termination of employment lawful in the second instance, which was decided because they had not been able to agree on a wage increase with the state-owned HungaroControl for a long time.
According to Magyar Nemzet, the monthly salaries of air traffic controllers are typically EUR 5.7-8.5 thousand (~HUF 2-3 million), or even more, with benefits, as well as HungaroControl offered the trade union a 15% annual increase instead of the redundancies and pay cuts that have become commonplace in the sector due to the pandemic.
On 26th July, a government decree has been introduced that banned the planned strike of air traffic controllers demanding higher wages. The trade union protested against the decree and asked for the help of international organisations. Currently, there is no news that wage negotiations have been speeded up since then.