Spain's air traffic controllers commenced a wildcat strike on 04-Dec-2010 defending "intolerable privileges" and opposing plans to partially privatise airports (Xinhua/Telegraph.co.uk, Reuters, 05/06-Dec-2010). The strike of 2300 air traffic controllers follows the approval of a package of austerity measures by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his ministers, including plans to partially privatise airports and hand over management of Madrid and Barcelona airports to the private sector. On 03-Dec-2010, the government announced it would sell off 49% of AENA, with union, USCA claiming the government will write off the company's debt and sell the stake for a reduced price. The government had also significantly cut their overtime hours and pay rates in Feb-2010 to trim incomes which rose as high as EUR600,000 a year.
Spanish airspace reopened at 15.30 on 05-Dec-2010 when the Spanish Council of Ministers held an emergency meeting on the morning of 04-Dec-2010 to find solutions to the issue. Approximately 650,000 passengers were been affected by the action, prompting the government to declare a "state of alarm" for 15 days in the country. Government action obliged the controllers to immediately return to work and placed them under military jurisdiction, taking effect immediately and 50% of the country's air traffic controllers had reported to their posts by 14:00 local time. Ryanair cancelled all services to and from all Spanish airports (including the flight to/from Alicante to Bratislava) and all Portuguese airports on 04-Dec-2010. It is estimated the strike may have cost the tourism industry as much as EUR350 million and carriers more than EUR100 million. [more - Bratislava] [more - Iberia] [more - Blue Air] [more - Belfast Airport]