Controllers' protest forces flight delays at Athens airport

A protest by Greek air traffic controllers entered its second day Monday, forcing delays at scores of flights at Athens international airport as a separate walkout by truckers choked fuel supplies.

A spokesman at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos airport said more than 90 flights had been delayed by the controllers' work-to-rule protest but that the disruption had been protracted than a day earlier.

"We have 96 flights, which have been delayed by up to an hour, though for around half the hold-up was up to 20 minutes. The situation is improving," the spokesman who asked not to be named told AFP.

On Sunday out of 294 departures, three flights were cancelled, while 186 flights faced delays.

The air traffic controllers' union went ahead with its 48-hour strike on Sunday, assuring "minimum service", even though the courts had declared the action "abusive and illegal".

The union objects to proposed changes contained in a bill to the way the air traffic control system is run, union president Angelos Sotiropoulos told AFP.

The strike is having a damaging effect as it comes at the height of the tourist season, which Greece heavily depends on for income in the midst of a deep national financial crisis.

More disruption was caused Monday by an open-ended strike by truckers opposed to the liberalisation of their tightly-controlled sector.

Trucker unionists say government efforts to open the sector by reducing new license charges is unfair to existing operators who have already paid high start-up fees of up to 300,000 euros (387,000 dollars).

Thousands of motorists formed long queues at fuel stations, which were expected to run dry by Wednesday.

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