The Portuguese air traffic controllers have begun a five-day strike in the capital Lisbon against their working conditions, leading to the cancellation of more than 200 flights.
Air traffic controllers from air navigation services provider, NAVA, staged three two-hour periods strikes on Thursday, with a 24-hour strike planned for Friday, continuing the flight disruption into the weekend.
The protesters will also hold similar strike actions next week on May 24 and 25, to voice their opposition at the government’s tough spending cuts and demand more subsidies for the operation of air traffic services.
The strike actions will affect the flight plans of several major European airlines. Carriers including Tap, Easyjet and Ryanair have cancelled some of their flights while some others have rescheduled their flights to avoid the strikes.
Meanwhile, the action led the Ireland-based Ryanair, which is Europe’s largest no-frills carrier, to call on the European Commission to remove the right to strike from Europe’s air traffic controllers, aiming to bring them in line with Europe’s police forces and army personnel.
The protests are regarded as the latest actions taken by air traffic controllers in an ongoing protest against the austerity measures adopted by the Portuguese government to control the country's budget deficit in 2012 and 2013.