Passenger fears over a potential strike by Spanish air traffic controllers have been –temporarily – allayed following an announcement by unions.
Spanish air traffic controllers voted by an overwhelming majority to strike over government changes to their working conditions earlier this month.
However, they have garnered little public support, with many controllers reported to earn in excess of €350,000 while the government is simultaneously seeking to curtail a spiralling budget deficit.
Controllers are employed by state-run airport management firm AENA.
Perhaps aware of the latent hostility toward their position, air traffic controllers have agreed to postpone any industrial action until after the key summer holiday period.
“The executive committee has decided not to exercise the right to strike during the month of August in order to demonstrate responsibility,” explained Cesar Cap, USCA head of communications.
Summer Holidays in Spain
Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had earlier called on the controllers to make a decision “as soon as possible” on whether to call a strike, which he said has already caused “uncertainty” and “negative effects”.
Government officials had also mooted the possibility of calling in the Spanish military to operate air traffic control for the duration of any strike, a position supported by airlines including Ryanair.
Citing the global economic crisis the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also called Spanish air traffic controllers to avoid any future strikes.
“This is not the time for strikes,” said IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.
“Arbitration is a fair, open and balanced means to settle the differences between AENA and the air traffic controllers.
“And it would avoid debilitating disruption to Spain’s economy,” he concluded.