4 Feb 2005

New Caledonia airport operational without firefighter cover

4:23 pm on 4 February 2005

Planes continue to use New Caledonia's international airport although it can no longer meet minimum safety requirements because of a firefighters strike.

Five firefighters are to be present as a minimum and despite their three-month strike, a skeleton service was guaranteed because it was requisitioned by the French government.

But according to media reports, the remaining firefighters have now vanished.

The social dialogue minister, Alain Song, says this is tantamount to abandoning one's post and considered as a serious act.

Some flights have been delayed or cancelled in recent times while some airlines, like Qantas, have decided to fly at their own risk.

Firefighters want to have overtime payments disbursed before they begin any talks.