Last updated: 02:09 PM ET, Sat September 26 2015

Flights Delayed in Spain by Air Traffic Controller Work Stoppages

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | September 26, 2015

Flights Delayed in Spain by Air Traffic Controller Work Stoppages

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Have one of Spain’s airports on your itinerary? Get comfortable — you could be in for a bit of a wait. According to The Spain Report, work stoppages by air traffic controllers in the USCA union are causing delays.

This strike is slated to last 12 hours, ending 6 p.m. Spanish time Saturday, The Spain Report said. 

Citing data from Eurocontrol, The Spain Report said flights into and out of the country experienced delays of more than 45 minutes. Also revealed by this information is that up to 12:30 p.m., local time, the work action has caused more than 75 hours of combined delays.

Susana Romero, spokesperson for the USCA, told The Spain Report it was “impossible to know” the number of flights that will be affected by the strike as well as their countries of origin.

"There's an accumulative effect throughout the day, they add up", she explained to The Spain Report, referring to delayed flights holding up later scheduled flights, thus creating more delays. "There's a change of shift at 3 p.m.," she said. "So it will depend on how many delays there are by then and how many controllers from the new shift decide to join the strike."

The most reported delays are in Barcelona (Catalonia) and Palma de Mallorca, according to Romero, via The Spain Report, and she said this was because Barcelona has a bigger air traffic control center, and has a number of air traffic controllers willing to strike. Also, the major complaint leading to the strike, Romero said, is related to Barcelona controllers.

The Spain Report said USCA’s demands relate to sanctions and firings of controllers after an eruption of “air traffic chaos across Spain in December 2010, when the government declared a state of alarm and militarized Spanish air space and air traffic control,” due to a mass wildcat strike by controllers. Work stoppages for the same reasons also occurred in early June. 

USCA is asking Spanish air traffic company ENAIRE, affiliated with Spain’s Ministry of Public Works, to “withdraw sanctions” for 61 controllers in Barcelona and put a fired Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) controller back on the job, according to The Spain Report.

"The trade union's demands go beyond the law," declared an ENAIRE spokesperson to The Spain Report, adding ENAIRE's official position is "we have made all efforts to achieve a global solution (but) it is impossible for ENAIRE to accept USCA's demands.”

He did not provide details on offers or measures proposed by ENAIRE during this week’s talks, The Spain Report said.

Romero asserted to The Spain Report that ENAIRE, “offered to wait until the judges in Barcelona decided, which we thought was at least an offer, so we proposed calling off the stoppage on Saturday. They said no."

A recent tweet from USCA contains a section of meeting minutes with ENAIRE, showing the company's rejection of the proposal, "which asked for the complete cancellation of the strike," the tweet added.

ENAIRE did not dispute this claim, The Spain Report said, but their spokesperson would not comment "out of respect for the negotiating process."

Regarding travel snags, the ENAIRE spokesperson told The Spain Report there were "delays in Barcelona, but absolute normality" in the rest of the country.

The Spain Report pointed out that 25 percent of all tourists taking a trip to the country visit Barcelona’s home region of Catalonia.

Travelers flying into and out of Spanish airports should check with their carriers for up-to-the-minute information.

For more information on Spain, Barcelona

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