AENA Chairman Juan Ignacio Lema stated Spanish air-traffic controllers “must” pay the EUR100 million (USD131 million) carriers are claiming from AENA, to compensate for damages caused when controllers abandoned their positions on 03-Dec-2010 and 04-Dec-2010 (Bloomberg/Typically Spanish, 18/19-Dec-2010). AENA and the air traffic controllers union, USCA, met on 20-Dec-2010 to decide how talks will proceed. Nine controllers called to face court in Santiago on 17-Dec-2010 refused to speak. Several controllers face prosecution for participating in a wildcat strike on 03-Dec-2010.
AENA and USCA to recommence talks
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Spain aviation and LCCs: 2016 traffic above pre-crisis levels, but capacity surplus unsustainable
After suffering a protracted recession in 2009 to 2013, Spain's air travel market at last looks set to exceed its pre-crisis passenger numbers in 2016, albeit with something of an airline capacity glut. During the recession traffic was actually remarkably robust, thanks to buoyant inbound tourism and the growth of LCCs.
Europe's third largest aviation market by seats is dominated by short haul, with long haul strongly skewed towards trans-Atlantic routes (North and South) – principally operated by a resurgent Iberia and Air Europa. For long haul connections elsewhere Spain relies on other European hubs, although Iberia has re-entered Asia Pacific with Madrid-Shanghai, and plans a Tokyo service. The superconnectors have yet to make a big impression in Spain, but this may change.
Ryanair has been the largest airline by seats in Spain since 2013, the result of its own growth and also of second ranked Iberia's restructuring. IAG's other Spanish airline – the fast-growing Vueling – has been the country's number three ranked airline since 2010, pushing Air Europa into fourth. Madrid has remained Spain's largest airport, but Barcelona's growth has outpaced Madrid's. Spain's airport operator AENA is benefiting from double-digit growth this year, but airlines are suffering yield declines.
Europe's aviation strike spike could signal a cyclical peak - with downturn to follow
One swallow does not make a spring and nor does a rash of aviation strike news guarantee a turning point for the aviation industry. But the signs are ominous. In the month of Jun-2016 (to 20-Jun-2016), there have been 136 articles on CAPA's website mentioning the word 'strike'. This compares with 81 for the first 20 days of Jun-2015. For 2016 so far (1-Jan-2016 to 20-Jun-2016), the 's' word has occurred in 594 articles – about 20% more than in the same period in each of the past two years. If this rate continues, 2016 could be the biggest year for strike-related articles since before the global financial crisis.
The vast majority of the Jun-2016 articles – 80% – relate to Europe. A significant source is air traffic control disputes, particularly French ATC. There have also been strikes and/or strike threats involving airport workers and ground handlers. Among European airlines, Air France has generated the most coverage for its ongoing dispute with its pilots, and it may also face a cabin crew strike. Lufthansa has not yet faced a strike by its employees this year, but has not yet reached new agreements with pilots or cabin crew after industrial action last year.
History tells us that labour's demands grow as profits rise. The apparent increase in industrial action this year could be a signal of an approaching peak in the airline profit cycle. There are other causes of unrest, such as impending French labour legislation, but the correlation reflects some history.