Protests and strikes by workers at Cairo airport over the last week forced the ruling military council in Egypt to appoint a civilian head of the airport for the first time in fifty years. A lightning strike by airport workers on 20 July, during which hundreds of strikers blocked the main road to Cairo, called for higher wages and an end to the practice of appointing military figures to leading positions in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the administration of the airport. In direct negotiations with strikers’ representatives, Airforce Commander Reda Hafez, a member of the military council which has ruled Egypt since February, agreed to meet the workers’ demands.
Meanwhile protests elsewhere in the airport continued on 25 July, with groups of workers attempting to close the departure and arrivals halls, according to Egyptian press reports. The authorities were said to have declared a state of emergency in the airport.
Events at the airport follow the founding of a large number of independent unions representing different grades of airport workers, including unions representing pilots, EgyptAir maintenance workers, civil aviation security personnel, EgyptAir ground staff and air traffic controllers. Airport workers rallied in Tahrir Square on 16 July, which has been occupied by protestors since 8 July, and marched to the cabinet offices to make their demands.