, ZAGREB, November 21, 2013 (AFP) – Zagreb airport was closed Thursday and all commercial flights cancelled as staff started a two-day strike to protest a takeover by a French-led consortium.
The strike, which started at 0900 GMT and is due to end at 2300 GMT Friday, forced the cancellation of all 60 scheduled commercial flights from the Croatian airport, according to its website.
Airlines transported passengers to alternative airports while some carriers have cancelled their flights, a statement from Zagreb Pleso airport said.
Only emergency medical, army and government flights will be allowed.
Unions fear that some 800 employees may lose their benefits and jobs once the airport is taken over by the ZAIC consortium led by Aeroports de Paris (ADP).
However, airport CEO Miroslav Drljaca said the strike was “unfounded and illegal” as employees were enjoying better rights than most Croatian workers. They would also keep both their jobs and their benefits for at least five years, he said.
Direct damages from the strike were estimated at some 900,000 kuna (118,000 euros, $158,000).
In 2012, the government and ZAIC signed a deal for a 30-year concession to manage the airport and construct a new passenger terminal — an investment estimated at more than 230 million euros.
The new terminal will have an annual capacity of five million passengers. Currently Zagreb airport can process around two million passengers a year.