Cairo International airport was almost paralysed Saturday, despite strikes by air stewards supposedly being on hold.
“Our flight was supposed to take off at 10am,” Lybian passenger Milad Al-Shafei’ told the Daily News Egypt. “Yet, it’s almost 4pm and we still have not travelled.”
Al-Shafei’ added that nobody at the airport had given him a reason behind the delay. “We’ve heard unconfirmed stories claiming that the air stewards’ strike is still ongoing,” he said.
Air stewards went on strike Friday, which meant many flights were postponed until Saturday, resulting in crowding and delays.
Passengers said planes were boarding using the stairs on the tarmac, rather than the more modern boarding tunnels. One passenger described the boarding operations as strictly “manual”.
However an air steward at Egypt Air denied the strike was ongoing, assuring the Daily News Egypt that the strike was postponed on Friday and until they meet with the Minister of Aviation on Sunday.
“If our demands are met, then the strike’s over,” Hossam Al-Sharkawy, the Egypt Air air steward who took part in the Friday strike, explained. “If not, then we’re back to striking.”
Al-Sharkawy explained that the delay in the flights on Saturday is due to the backlog of flights from the day before. “The delayed flights are automatically scheduled to the next day,” he said.
The air stewards are demanding the establishment of an independent sector for air stewards, paying the stewards raises expected since 1996, improved healthcare, resolving underemployment issues and honouring the ministry’s vow not punish anybody who took part in the strike.
“The cabin crew stewards usually bear the consequences of any mishap,” Al-Sharkawy said. “For every plane, there’s a minimum as well as maximum number of cabin crew members who must be on board of the plane for safety measures. We’ve been taking off with the minimum number of cabin crew members for years now, something which is causing a strain on us.”
The Friday strike was temporarily called off after the president’s legal advisor, Mohamed Gab Allah, met with the heads of the stewards, and promised to establish an independent stewards’ sector and that stewards’ will receive raises from next month, according to ONA news agency. The stewards are to meet with Gab Allah on Sunday as well, and according to the outcome of the meeting it will be decided whether or not the strike will resume.
The Daily News Egypt could not reach the airport administration for comment.