Airlines across Europe are preparing for severe disruption tomorrow as transport unions join a general strike in Spain.
Members of the General Workers’ Union (UGT) are among those preparing to walk out for 24-hours from midnight tonight, following a government decision to implement an austerity budget designed to reduce a budget deficit.
Under the terms of prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s budget civil servants – including air traffic controllers – will see wages cut by five per cent.
In response, UGT has argued cuts are socially unjust and a backward step for the nation’s economy, with a series of strikes now planned.
However, the impact of the action is far from assured.
A June 8th public-sector strike was supported by just 12 per cent of workers, according to government data.
Unions also lack widespread support, with many Spanish believing the cuts are necessary with unemployment running at near 20 per cent.
Air Traffic Control
Of principal concern to international travellers is the role of air traffic controllers in the dispute.
Negotiations ahead of the strike have seen controllers consent to allow at least 20 per cent of European flights and 40 per cent of other international flights to operate during the industrial action.
However, this is not sufficient for many.
“Europe’s airlines and passengers have suffered at the hands of air traffic control providers all summer long and now, ahead of yet another Spanish air traffic control strike, Ryanair is calling on the EU to take action to prevent further strike action,” said Ryanair spokesperson Stephen McNamara.
“Ryanair will not allow its passengers to be inconvenienced further by the selfish strike action by Europe’s air traffic controllers.”
The airline confirmed it would operate ‘hand luggage only’ flights to Spain for the duration of the strike.
Spain’s flagship airline Iberia confirmed it would operate 35 per cent of its flights.