Delays loom as security staff start indefinite strike at Barcelona airport

Security staff at Barcelona’s El Prat will begin an indefinite strike at midnight on Thursday with authorities warning passengers to expect long queues.

Delays loom as security staff start indefinite strike at Barcelona airport
Long queues formed in 2017 when security staff went on strike at El Prat. Photo: AFP

Failure to reach a last minute agreement in negotiations between workers unions and contractor Trablisa meant the strike scheduled to begin Friday would go ahead.

In a vote on Thursday, 175 out of 175 workers rejected a proposal by the company to call off the strike and demanded better pay and working conditions.

Spain’s labour ministry said that a minimum 90 percent service had to be met but that the stoppage would lead to lengthy queues at the airport ahead of one of the busiest travel weekends of the summer.

Airlines were warning passengers to arrive in plenty of time to the airport and to travel with minimum hand luggage.


British Airways sent a message out to passengers with the warning “We have been advised by the airport authorities in Barcelona that, due to industrial action by airport security staff, you may experience long queues at security channels at Barcelona Airport throughout the day. 

“We recommend that you arrive at the airport in plenty of time for your flight and where possible travel with minimal hand baggage.”

A similar strike over working contracts by security staff at El Prat in 2017 caused mayhem at the airport with waiting times stretching to several hours.

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Spain’s AENA, world’s biggest airport operator, flies into the red

Spain's AENA, the world's biggest airport operator by passenger numbers, said Wednesday it plunged into the red last year as the coronavirus pandemic decimated the travel sector worldwide.

Spain's AENA, world's biggest airport operator, flies into the red
Photo: AFP

The company posted a net loss of nearly €127 million ($154 million) in 2020, its first since 2012. Analysts polled by Factset had forecast a loss of €205 million.

It handled 76 million passengers at the 46 airports which it manages in Spain last year, compared to over 275 million in 2019, the company said in a statement.

In addition to the airports it manages in Spain, AENA has direct and indirect shares in another 23 airports, including London Luton.

The rest are mainly in Latin America.

“There are no signs of a recovery in the short term due to the new wave of virus infections which is spreading in Europe and the different restrictions” on travel that have been put in place, the statement added.

AENA — which is 51 percent owned by the Spanish government — recorded revenues of €2.2 billion last year, a 50.2 percent drop compared to 2019.

The pandemic has pulverised Spain's key tourism industry with international arrivals dropping to 19 million in 2020, down from nearly 84 million the previous year.

The 77.3 percent decrease snapped a seven-year trend of annual records and ended a decade-long run of yearly increases.