Air traffic controllers call for more staff to fill new post

A labor union that represents air traffic controllers and other workers in Japan is asking the transport ministry to assign more personnel to fill a new post designed to improve runway safety.

The union made the request at the ministry's Civil Aviation Bureau on Tuesday. About 70 percent of air traffic controllers belong to the labor body.

The ministry has created the post at main airports including Haneda, Narita and Kansai in order to continuously monitor a screen that shows airplanes' locations.

The move was taken after a fatal runway collision at Tokyo's Haneda Airport that killed five people last month.

Air traffic controllers are undertaking the new task without additional employees.

The union requests that its members be given an opportunity to speak at an expert panel the ministry set up to discuss runway safety.

It is also calling for mental care to be available to any airport officials across the country.

Union leader Yamasaki Masato told reporters that the air traffic controller workforce is growing too slowly to handle the increasing number of aircraft coming to and leaving Japan.

He said workload per employee continues to rise, adding that assigning more controllers is essential to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.