ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey's parliament has passed legislation that would ban strikes and lockouts in the country's aviation sector after a protest by workers at Turkish Airlines this week forced the national carrier to cancel many flights.
If Turkey's president approves the legislation, it will become law.
Turkish Airlines, Europe's fourth largest carrier, said the decision on Tuesday by many of its workers to protest the pending legislation by calling in sick had forced it to cancel 223 flights — affecting more than 100,000 passengers — and cost the company nearly $2 million (€1.61 million). A simultaneous attack on the airline's website blocked sales on it.
Turkish Airlines sacked 305 workers accused of taking part in the job action, the company said. The carrier has some 17,000 employees and more than 180 planes.
Parliament approved the legislation by a show of hands on Wednesday night.
Mustafa Yagci, secretary general of the civil aviation workers union Hava-is, said Thursday that it expects President Abdullah Gul to veto the legislation because it violates the rights of workers to strike.
But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that the legislation is designed to prevent interruptions in air travel. His government said it wants to make Turkish Airlines, which is expanding its network around the world, immune to strikes.
The airline said the protest has damaged its reputation and the efforts to make Istanbul an international transit hub. The carrier flies to more than 80 countries, including Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Turkish Airlines recently launched an aggressive advertising campaign, including deals with European football (soccer) clubs, Hollywood stars and prominent tennis and basketball players. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers appeared in the airline's promotion of nonstop flights between Istanbul and Los Angeles.
Associated Press Writer Emrah Betos in Ankara contributed.