Albania announces measures amid efforts to reinstate order at Tirana Airport

Albania announces measures amid efforts to reinstate order at Tirana Airport

Albanian Defense Minister Niko Peleshi, also serving as head of the Civil Defense Committee, contacted the Civil Defense Committee late last night, calling on the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy to take the necessary measures to restore the operation of the Rinas Airport, even by replacing the air traffic controllers, whose strike has resulted to the cancellation of flights.

Peleshi announced today on TV that he had met with the Civil Protection Committee, which had authorized Minister of Infrastructure Belinda Balluku to replace the controllers.

“I want to inform the media on something new. The Minister of Defense is also the head of the Civil Defense Committee and I called a meeting of the Civil Defense Committee in the last few hours. This multi-ministerial commission has made a three-point decision,” Peleshi said.

The first point, he said, requires the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy to take the necessary measures to allow the resumption of operation, even by replacing the controllers either with foreigners or locals; secondly, to establish the licensing criteria to resume flights as soon as possible and to do whatever is necessary for the gradual resumption of work.

“We can not remain inactive, we can not remain hostage in the political game, I will fulfill my duty as a minister until the end. Based on the result of this Commission, all responsibility falls on Minister Baluku do everything to continue the work. People are wondering when they will come, when they will leave, while vaccinations are pending. We have assessed it as a threat to Civil Protection and we have made that decision,” Peleshi said.

Police and Army forces have taken control of Tirana’s “Mother Teresa” airport since Thursday morning. As of yesterday, some auditors at AlbControl, the air traffic control company at the airport, said they were unable to work due to stress and other conditions. (Under their contract, they are not allowed to strike, but only to declare that they can not work due to illness.) Among other things, they demand a refund of the monthly salary of $ 4,400, which they received by the end of 2019 instead of  the $ 2,490 they are paid now, since air traffic, according to the government, has dropped to 57%. More than 65 inspectors joined them, disrupting all flights to and from Tirana, including the Aegean flight. Infrastructure Minister Belinda Balluku, who called the act a coup instigated by President Ilir Meta and former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, has sent the case to the prosecutor, and since last night 24 of the auditors have passed through the prosecutor’s office. The Prime Minister called on them to return to work immediately, as among the flights were those delivering vaccines to the country. “One thing is for sure, there is no way the destructive forces, the blind forces, the forces of the past can stop us in this process,” Rama said, stressing that he could even bring in foreign air traffic controllers. /ibna