Strike to delay flyers today

Hundreds of domestic and international flights will be seriously delayed today as air traffic controllers stop work in Sydney and Brisbane.

Many flights will be cancelled, with Sydney only able to operate 12 flights an hour between 11am and 4pm, compared with the usual 60 to 70 during this time.

Qantas and Virgin Blue have been trying to contact all passengers and transferring them to earlier or later flights. Qantas said that 25 per cent of all its domestic flights on trunk routes would be affected. The airlines' call centres and websites are being beseiged by passengers today, so expect delays.

The stoppage was called as talks between the Civil Air Operations Officers' Association and Air Services Australia stalled yesterday. The dispute is over pay, conditions and improved rostering. The president of CAOOA, Ted Lang, said last night he regrets the flight disruptions but passenger safety is at risk. “The public does not want tired, stressed or inexperienced air traffic controllers”, he said.

A spokesman for Sydney Airport urged all travellers to contact affected airlines before leaving home.

Useful numbers: Qantas 13 13 13 ; Virgin Blue 13 67 89 ; Hazelton 13 17 13 ; Kendell 13 13 00