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Spanish Air Traffic Controls threaten action

Mon 19th Jul 2010

Barcelona's El Prat airport did not see the amount of delays expected yesterday, when many air traffic controllers used absenteeism to put pressure on AENA management ahead of talks on pay. Just under half of all controllers failed to turn up for work, with 75% of those absent claiming medical reasons.

Delays under one hour were imposed on three international flights during the morning, although there were longer delays in the afternoon.

Problems also occurred in Alicante and on the Baleares. At El Altet there have been delays of 99 minutes in as many as 21 flights, as a consequence of the action by the controllers in Barcelona. In Palma eleven flights have been cancelled, ten of them international services, and again the reason given is the lack of personnel in Barcelona air traffic control.

Spanish Air traffic controllers are threatening ‘a complicated summer', and claim that the high level of absenteeism and medical time off is due to the stress which has been brough about by a shortgage of staff. Their Union - USCA - said the number of controllers off sick had increased over recent months as a consequence of the pressure of work. They claim that rotas are too tight and so any absence has its consequences.

Minister for Development, José Blanco, said the controllers were causing ‘serious damage' to the country, the airlines and the travellers. He said that AENA had asked Social Security to inspect such high numbers of people off sick and legal action would be taken if irregularities were found.

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