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Spain may extend state of alert 2 months

Source: Reuters - Mon 6th Dec 2010

Spain may extend its state of emergency for up to two months to train military personnel to take over the jobs of those air traffic controllers who are sacked or face legal action, El Mundo newspaper said on Monday.

The army took over air control towers late on Friday and the government declared a state of emergency on Saturday - for the first time since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 - in response to a wildcat strike by controllers.

About 250,000 people's flights were disrupted on one of Spain's busiest holiday weekends and initial losses for the tourism sector, which accounts for about 11 percent of gross domestic product, were seen at about 400 million euros.

Spain's airport authority Aena has initiated 440 disciplinary proceedings against the air traffic controllers, Public Works Minister Jose Blanco said over the weekend.

No-one at the prime minister's office was immediately available for comment on the El Mundo report which cited an unnamed government source.

Saturday's state of emergency was for 15 days.

Air transport was returning to normal on Monday, a public holiday, with more than 500,000 people having travelled from Spain's airports since Saturday afternoon, according to reports on national radio.

The air traffic controllers' walkout out came only a few hours after the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero rushed in new economic measures regulating their working hours and pledging to sell part of state-owned airport authority AENA raising up to 9 billion euros.

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