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Air traffic controllers begin strike across Spain

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A plane takes off from Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport. Photo: Pedro Armestre / AFP
11:21 CEST+02:00
The first of a series of strikes by Spain’s air traffic controllers got underway Monday morning with authorities warning that more than 5,000 flights could be affected this week.

Spain’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport has demanded a minimum operational service of 70 percent at the start of the strike on Monday morning between 10 am and 12 noon at airports across Spain.

The strikes will take place on 8th, 10th, 12th and 14th June will take place between 10am and noon and between 6pm and 8pm.

It is the first planned strike action by Spain’s air traffic controller union, La Unión Sindical de Controladores Aéreos (USCA),  for 26 years and has been called in protest against a decision to sanction 61 air traffic controllers for shutting down Barcelona’s airspace in 2010.

Spain’s military was called in to take over air traffic control five years ago after controllers called wild cat strikes during a dispute with airport authority Aena over hours and conditions.

The strike action was announced last month.

AENA, Spain’s airports operator were warned travelers on Monday that delays could occur and to check the status of their flight with the airline.

Meanwhile, Spain’s government warned that up to 5,300 flights could be affected by the strike action despite a legal rule that ensures a minimum operation service of 70 percent must be provided by the striking union.  

The stoppages were expected to affect thousands of travellers across Spain with airlines warning that they would do everything within their power to limit the disruption.

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"At this stage easyJet plans to operate its full schedule, however, like other airlines, some flights operated during these periods might be delayed," read a statement from Easyjet. "We would like to reassure customers that we are doing everything possible to minimise any disruption as a result of the industrial action."

USCA spokesman Susana Romero said: "Industrial disputes never occur at the right time and are always going to affect a section of the population. "That’s why we’ve called stoppages and not general strikes.

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