Egyptian pilots end protest; 22 flights delayed

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian pilots working for the national carrier staged a 10-hour sit-in protest on Thursday, delaying 22 flights in an effort to press their demands for management changes and bonus payments.

It was the second protest involving the Cairo International Airport this month.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of street rallies and strikes in the two years since a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak. The turmoil has fed growing economic and political woes, often leaving the country struggling to retain a semblance of normalcy.

An opposition youth movement is planning massive street protests later this month to demand the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

On Thursday, EgyptAir pilots came to work but hung out at the main terminal instead of taking their flights. The disrupted flights included both domestic and international.

Ahmed Younis, head of the pilots’ association, said the protest ended after Civil Aviation Minister Wael el-Maadawi held talks with the protesters and agreed to meet their demands for changes in EgyptAir’s top management and pay the bonuses proposed by the pilots.

On June 5, striking workers at the Cairo airport blocked airplanes on the tarmac at the hub’s largest terminal. They occupied taxiing areas near runways, forcing passengers to board and disembark at the airport’s other terminal.

The strikers were demanding better pay. The protest delayed the departure of seven flights and diverted passengers from three incoming international flights to another terminal.

At the time, security forces refused to intervene to remove the striking workers, arguing that such a move would worsen the situation and recommended resolving the strike through negotiations.

And in May, EgyptAir baggage handlers held a strike demanding better safety measures, which left passengers on 20 international flights from European and Arab countries waiting several hours for luggage.

That strike was a protest after a colleague died when a conveyer belt used to unload luggage fell on his head. Co-workers said it took more than an hour for the ambulance to arrive at the scene from the airport’s onsite hospital, a claim hospital officials denied.

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