Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Muscat: The ground handling staff at the Muscat airport have gone on strike since Friday night slowing down operations at the airport.

“The national workforce among the ground handling staff are on strike since Friday night,” a worker at the airport told Gulf News, asking for anonymity.

The workers are demanding better working conditions, fewer working hours and better wages. This is second time this year the workers have resorted to a strike.

“I could not deposit visas on Saturday morning for our business associate to come from India,” Biju Jacob, an employee of Abdul Fattah Noor Company LLC, told Gulf News.

He said that when he went to the airport to deposit the visa for passengers arriving later tonight, there was no one at the ‘visa deposit’ counter.

Under the system, once a visa is deposited at the airport counter, the concerned airline is given a message to let a passenger board a flight.

“We had to send the visa by courier to our business associates from India and they had to postpone the visit till they get visas in hand to board a flight from India,” said the senior employee of the firm that imports fruits, vegetables, frozen foodstuff and eggs into Oman.

“With the airport situation since Friday night, we had to ask our employees to work double shifts to cope up with the work overload,” Riyaz Kuttery, General Manager of Jet Airways, told Gulf News. He, however, added that all three Jet Airways flight left Muscat on time. “Two left last night and one this morning,” he added.

Meanwhile, Oman Air issued a statement confirming that a small number of staff has gone on strike at the Muscat International Airport.

“It is disappointed to learn that an unofficial strike has been called by a small number of staff at Muscat International Airport,” according to the statement issued by the airline’s Corporate Communication to Gulf News.

“No advance notice of the strike was given as required by the Omani labour law and the national regulations governing industrial action appear not to have been observed,” the statement said.

“Oman Air’s formal complaints and grievance procedures remain available to any member of staff who wishes to raise issues of concern.”

The statement further clarified that Oman Air had positioned additional staff to minimize the impact on customers and have managed a 77 per cent on time performance of all their flights between 1am and 2.30pm on Saturday.

The statement assured that Oman Air’s commitment to its customers was absolute and the airline was working towards resuming normal service as quickly as possible.