Fears for summer flight chaos as Spanish air traffic controllers tease strike

SPANISH air traffic controllers could heap more misery on UK by striking this summer.

Staff will decide whether to announce industrial action at an assembly at the end of June in Barcelona, sources at air traffic controllers’ union USCA have told Spanish press.

There has not yet been any official announcement from the union, which claims to represent more than 90 per cent of air traffic controllers in Spain.

But national spokesman Susana Romero confirmed overnight the possibility of a strike was on the cards in comments she made to respected Majorcan newspaper Diario de Mallorca.

A Spanish air traffic controllers strike would heap extra pressure on British holidaymakers, who are already struggling with extreme delays and cancellations before even leaving the UK.

The strike centres around USCA complaints about staff levels as the number of travellers returns to pre-Covid 19 pandemic levels.

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They say staff who have retired have not always been replaced and new air traffic controllers were not trained up during the coronavirus pandemic because of the cancellation of training courses.

They claim that the number of air traffic controllers in the Balearic Islands – which include Majorca and Ibiza and is one of the most popular destinations for British tourists – was “insufficient” for the summer.

During a previous Spanish air controllers' strike in 2019, several airports across the country were shut and thousands of travellers were left stranded.

However, an air traffic controllers’ strike in June 2015 in Spain, which was expected to cause chaos, went off virtually unnoticed.

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Earlier this week it was claimed British tourists arriving at Majorca Airport were taking an average of nearly three hours after landing to reach the coaches waiting to take them to their hotels.

The problems were blamed mainly on a lack of police at passport control, especially on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays when most of the flights bringing in package holidaymakers land in Majorca.

In April, thousands of passengers missed their flights in Spain due to chaos at the airports – with calls for more staff after travellers were forced to queue for hours.

Hundreds of flights out of the UK have been delayed or cancelled in recent weeks and passengers have endured waits of several hours, with police being brought in to tackle the chaos.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps held crisis talks with travel chiefs yesterday in which he told them to sort out the mess, blamed on staff shortages caused by job cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Union Unite has warned that unless airline and airport bosses resolved the crisis before July, the “chaos will last the entire summer season.”

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