Air traffic controllers stage strike in Romania over pay

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian air traffic controllers staged a two-hour strike Wednesday after talks broke down over pay, job flexibility and the retirement age.

The strike began at 11 a.m. (0800 GMT) and ended at 1 p.m. affecting hundreds of passengers and costing an estimated 250,000 euros ($280,000).

In the first hour, one-third of flights were affected and in the second hour half of the flights ran as usual from Bucharest's Henri Coanda Airport.

Some flights were canceled. About 150 air traffic controllers gathered outside the airport wearing T-shirts with the map of Romania and the words: "Where is the national interest?"

The union representing Romania's 1,500 air traffic controllers wants employees to be able to retire at 55, higher pay and a labor agreement that allows controllers to move into different, less stressful roles at a certain age.

There will be new negotiations at the Transportation Ministry later Wednesday, officials said.

In an unrelated development, President Klaus Iohannis refused the prime minister's nomination for a new transportation minister Wednesday, saying the candidate he proposed lacked the necessary skills and management experience.