Air controllers strike in Spain

Spanish air traffic controllers to announce date for strike today

According to the union representing Spanish air traffic controllers (USCA) 98% of its members voted in favour of going on strike yesterday. It is expected that the date for the strike which is due to take place between the 15th and 20th August will be announced today.

In order to fulfil legal requirements the strike is not allowed to take place before the middle of August because at least 10 days warning must be given. Today the leaders of USCA will hold a meeting to decide on the date for the strike which according to the spokesperson for USCA, Daniel Zamit, could be the 18th or 20th August. They will also decide whether the strike will be for one day only or last for 3 days.

Before the results of the vote were known the tourist sector together with airlines operating in Spain expressed their concerns regarding the possibility of a strike by air traffic controllers.

The Spanish Association of Aerial Companies (AECA) predicted that an announcement of a strike would generate a large number of cancellations and divert a large number of tourists to Mediterranean destinations which can easily be reached by road or train.

Iberia said that it expected to lose clients as a result of the announcement.

Before the vote in favour of a strike took place the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (CEHAT) said that the strike would have serious economic consequences for Spanish tourism and suggested that Spanish air traffic controllers should be replaced by their foreign counterparts or the military in order to avoid major disruption.

The Minister of Transport, José Blanco, said yesterday that he was willing to look carefully at the demands by Spanish air traffic controllers. USCA also said that negotiations would continue between AENA despite the apparent deadlock.

It has been confirmed that the union met on Monday this week with AENA in order to try and agree on a new collective agreement and that it would probably hold further meetings tomorrow although it was not very optimistic over any possible advances in negotiations which have been going on for six months.

A spokesperson for USCA explained that following the vote in favour of a strike the Executive Committee will need to decide if a strike will in fact take place, how long it will last and when it will take place.