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10 November 2018
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Airport worker assaults rise

by Brendan de Beer, in News · 28-06-2018 13:23:00 · 0 Comments

Groundstaff representatives at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado International Airport have this week expressed ‘grave concern’ at the rising number of workers being subjected to verbal abuse and physical attacks by disgruntled passengers.

Airport worker assaults rise

Operators have directed blame at airlines for passengers lashing out at groundstaff, due to last-minute cancellations or over-bookings. Groundforce Portugal, which operates many of the services at Lisbon’s airport, said in a statement earlier in the week that “we can confirm an increase in attacks of our workers at Lisbon airport and we are providing all the necessary support to them while also looking at implementing measures to avoid that these attacks continue.”
Groundforce added that it has already met with airport operator ANA, aviation association ANAC and PSP police in order to find solutions to the problem.
Airport and airline worker union SITAVA meanwhile said it was aware of more than a “dozen episodes” of workers being assaulted since the beginning of the year.
Union leader Fernando Henriques said that one of the major headaches faced by groundstaff is the overbooking of seats by airlines, which in “99 percent of the cases involve TAP”.
The situation is becoming “increasingly complicated”, says Fernando Henriques, adding that “workers are scared of going to work, fearing that they may too be the victims of an assault”, especially when they are aware that they will be dealing with irate passengers who have been told they are unable to fly.
The union has requested reinforcement of policing at departure gates, while creating a black list of passengers who have assaulted staff, blocking them from flying.
Just this past weekend alone, there were three cases of assault, two on Sunday, when 40 flights were cancelled.
In one incident, a female worker was taken to hospital and placed on psychological leave after falling as she was shoved against a door by a disgruntled passenger.
PSP police and SEF immigration police have also been handed additional responsibilities in recent weeks.
Following a series of escape attempts, some successful, by passengers arriving from Morocco shortly after landing at Lisbon airport from destinations such as Casablanca, passenger coaches ferrying passengers from planes to the airport building are now escorted by police vehicles. Additional checks have been implemented by SEF officials prior to passengers arriving at passport control.
There has also been a dramatic increase in overall passenger numbers, with Lisbon airport leading the growth.
According to figures released this week by Portugal Statistics (INE), the capital’s airport experienced growth of almost 16 percent during the first quarter of this year, with passengers rising by more than almost a million, to six million, over the 90 days in question.
Overall, Lisbon airport accounted for 56.8 percent of the number of passengers transported in the first quarter of this year, while the Porto airport registered movements of 2.4 million (an additional 12 percent).
Faro Airport saw numbers stay unchanged at just over 900,000 passengers.

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Edition 1500
10 November 2018
Edition: 1500

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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