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Strike hits Finnish airports at 6 am

National Labour Conciliator Minna Helle says no deal has been reached in an aviation dispute, so a strike will begin on Tuesday morning. Airport operator Finavia recommends that passengers pack everything into carry-on bags if possible. The job action does not affect Finnair, Flybe or Blue1.

lentokoneen siivelle ruiskutetaan jäänestoainetta
The job action targets Airpro, a subsidiary of the state-owned airport operator Finavia. Image: Airpro

Baggage handling is expected to grind to a halt on Tuesday at Finland’s largest airports, and flight cancellations are possible.

The strike will not directly affect Finnair, Flybe or Blue1 flights.

Late Monday afternoon, state labour mediator Minna Helle announced via Twitter that no deal has been reached in an aviation dispute, so a strike will begin on Tuesday morning. However she added that negotiations were to resume soon.

Industrial action by the Finnish Aviation Union (IAU) and the Finnish Cabin Crew Union (SLSY) will particularly impact the nation’s two biggest airports, Helsinki and Oulu on Tuesday and Wednesday. The walkouts are scheduled for between 6 am and 6 pm on both 14 and 15 April.

The sympathy strike targets Airpro, a subsidiary of the former civil aviation authority Finavia, over its adherence to collective labour agreements in the sector.

Passengers should be prepared for disruptions, such as luggage stuck at the airports. Finavia says airlines may also be forced to cancel flights. It urges passengers to contact their travel agencies or airlines for more information about their flights -- and to bring only cabin baggage if possible.

All 24 Finavia airports affected

The IAU says it will halt all of Airpro’s luggage and cargo handling services at Oulu airport between 6 am and noon. The state-owned Finavia’s 23 other airports face walkouts between noon and 6 pm.

A sympathy strike will also stop baggage and freight handling at Aviator, Swissport and RTG between 6 am and 6 pm on both days.

Ground services staff will handle all work normally besides Aviator’s service for the airline Norwegian. These will be shut down each day 6 am-6 pm.

The walkouts may bring changes to some airlines’ leisure flights. Cabin crew work for Airpro’s charter flight companies will also stop 6 am-6 pm. These include Thomas Cook and TUIfly.

Airpro says only a few of its employees are SLSY or IAU members, so it does not expect the job actions to affect its services to airlines.

IAU argues that Finavia’s ground handling services for low-cost airlines should also be covered by the general Finnish aviation working contracts. Finavia has about 80 employees carrying out such work through its subsidiary Airpro.

The Association of Service Sector Employers (PALTA) has been negotiating with the unions for months over contract disputes. On Monday the industry group accused the two unions of power-grabbing.

Helsinki is by far the nation's largest airport with more than 15 million passengers annually, followed by Oulu at just over one million.

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