Hundreds of Greek air force pilots said they were too ill to fly on Monday in what the Defence Ministry said was an organised protest against pay cuts aimed at reducing Greece's huge budget deficit.
Hundreds of training flights, all of those scheduled, were expected to be cancelled on Monday, said a defence ministry official who declined to be named. Regular military flights were operating normally.
"They are using various excuses in a protest over new tax measures which affect them," the official said. "They say they don't feel well physically or that their morale is too weak."
Greek Air Force officials and the pilots' union were not available for comment.
Greece has asked for international aid and plans to cut its budget deficit by about 9 billion euros ($12 billion) this year to avoid spiralling deeper into economic crisis.
The measures, including public pay cuts, a pension freeze and tax hikes, have stripped hundreds of euros a month off pilots' income. Army pilots cannot strike but by law they do not have to fly if they call in sick.
"It is very discouraging to be sending Greek people the message that Greek pilots fly their country's skies not out of a sense of duty but for financial reasons," said Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos in a statement.
ReutersLast Mod: 27 Nisan 2010, 08:55