Transport Ministry hopes to halt air controllers strike on Wednesday

The Russian Transport Ministry Civil Aviation Service hopes to complete negotiations with the Federation of Air Controllers' Trade Unions on Wednesday and thus halt air controllers' protest rally, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Department on Air Traffic Organization Yury Meleshko said.

He expressed hope that air controllers would call off the hunger strike in the majority of the country's regions.

Meleshko assured that the negotiations between the State Corporation on Air Traffic Organization, the Transport Ministry and the Federation of Air Controllers' Trade Unions continued.

Head of the Federation Sergei Kovalev told RIA Novosti that air controllers from 50 airports participated in the move. On Wednesday, air controllers from the Amur Region (Far East) and Murmansk (North of the European part of Russia) have joined the protesters.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday because of the strikers' health problems the 20,000 kilometers long air corridor of the Tolmachevo airport (Novosibirsk) has been closed until afternoon. The air traffic in another corridor in a large Siberian center of Omsk, whose air controllers were the first to go on strike last Sunday, was also suspended. On Wednesday, the airport refused to receive any planes from Moscow, Kovalev said.

At the same time, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Department on Air Traffic Organization Yury Meleshko told RIA Novosti that 80% of the country's air controllers do not participate in the protest rally, namely controllers from Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Volgograd, Voronezh and other cities.

Although air controllers from these cities support the demands for a pay rise by a third, they do not accept the form of protest practised by their colleagues, Meleshko stressed.

According to the Federation of Air Controllers' Trade Unions, air passengers are angry because they cannot visit their relatives on holidays or go to Western Europe, even though they have bought tickets in advance. Passengers threaten with legal action whose costs are likely to exceed the airports' protest rally losses, trade unions claim.

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