Some air traffic control staff at airports in West and Central Africa went on strike over working conditions and pay on Friday as their union defied court rulings and government bans barring them from doing so.
The Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), which regulates air traffic control across 18 countries, did not say which flights were affected but told customers to check Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) posts on airline websites.
ASECNA had said on Thursday that some of its air traffic control staff had threatened a 48-hour strike that could impact flights. read more
"In spite of the prohibition of the strike by all the courts, and in spite of the orders of requisition of the air traffic controllers ... the Union of Air Traffic Controllers' Unions (USYCAA) has launched a wildcat strike," ASECNA said on Friday.
"We have already exhausted both administrative and institutional remedies in the management of this crisis, but we have in front of us trade unionists who are stubborn to do whatever they want," ASECNA's head of human resources, Ceubah Guelpina, told a press conference.
The USYCAA union said in a statement that its members would cease providing services to all but "sensitive" flights for an indefinite period until their demands are satisfied.
Paul Francois Gomis, a leader of Senegalese air traffic controllers who were on strike, said that some union members in Cameroon, Congo and the Comoros had been arrested for participating in the strike.
Gomis also said that Air Senegal had grounded several flights as a result of the action. The airline could not be immediately reached for comment.
On Thursday, a court in Senegal suspended the call to strike by air traffic controllers in Senegal and Ivory Coast, ASECNA said.
ASECNA said it has developed a contingency plan to allow airlines to take alternative routes when certain airports are impacted by temporary staff shortages, in case the strike should drag on.
(This corrects agency name to 'Agency for Aerial navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar' in paragraph 2)