Last updated: 03:03 PM ET, Sun June 07 2015

Report: Spain Air Traffic Controller Strike Imminent, Major Travel Disruptions Expected

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | June 07, 2015

Report: Spain Air Traffic Controller Strike Imminent, Major Travel Disruptions Expected

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On the cusp of summer vacation season, Spain’s air traffic controllers are making good on their promise to hold a partial strike, which is expected to cause major travel issues, according to the Associated Press.

The USCA controllers' trade union called for the strike last month in response to penalties imposed on workers who engaged in a 24-hour wildcat strike in 2010. 

According to the AP, the stoppage will occur from 10 a.m.-to-noon and 6-8 p.m. on June 8, 10, 12 and 14.

The AP said at least 5,300 flights stand to be affected in that timespan, which could cause airport madness, akin to what happened during the 2010 wildcat strike, which stranded 600,000 passengers right before a national holiday.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government has a 70 percent flight service guarantee in place.

The Daily Mail foresees travel headaches for Britons traveling to popular Spanish vacation spots.

The series of walkouts could affect nearly 450,000 passengers just at Palma de Mallorca Airport, located on the Mediterranean island of Majorca. The first strike day alone will see 600 planes and 100,000 passengers using the airport.

According to the Daily Mail, tourist chiefs on the popular Canary Islands vacation isle of Fuerteventura have reserved 1,300 beds divided among 14 hotels for tourists whose flights could be canceled, so they don’t have to sleep at the airport overnight.

Ryanair, which operates several flights into and out of Spain, announced on Twitter that it expects a “minimal impact” on its operations.

The 2010 wildcat strike had the Spanish military take over air traffic control operations after the staff called in sick “en masse” while in a dispute with the airport authority Aena over hours and conditions, said the Daily Mail.

USCA spokesman Susana Romero said to the Daily Mail, “Industrial disputes never occur at the right time and are always going to affect a section of the population … It's the last option left open to us. We can't have workers paying when those responsible are hiding in their offices.”

Spain's Ministry of Public Works and Transport is concerned about the negative impact the work stoppage will have on the country’s tourist industry. He told the Daily Mail, “Tourists on package holidays can't change the time or day of their flight as the services they have purchased mostly include hotel stays with fixed and non-changeable dates.

“Therefore the damage suffered by travelers, airlines, hotels and tourist operators will be difficult to repair.”

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