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Passengers association sues Spanish air traffic controllers

Thu 3rd Mar 2011

A collective of 5,000 passengers effected by the wildcat strike action taken by Spanish Air Traffic Controllers in December have announced that thay have taken legal action against the controllers who caused the disruption.

The disruption was caused by the majority of Spain's Air Traffic controllers calling in sick as an unofficial protest against proposed changes to their salaries and working conditions, and caused chaos with disrupted flights for more than 200,000 people over a busy bank holiday weekend.

The government eventually managed to restore order by forcing the controlles to return to work the following day after declaring a state of alert, putting the military in overall command and threatening jail for those who refused. This was the first state of alert declared since Spain's return to democracy over 35 years ago.

The passengers association released a statement to the press : "In the civil action, we are requesting the opening of a civil suit to claim 10,000 euros in moral damages and financial losses for each person", it continued : "The closure of airspace affected thousands of people who were hostage to the situation in national and international planes and airports, causing major losses to the tourism sector and damaging the image of Spain."

The Association's legal team expect more disgruntled passengers to contact them to join in the civil action. Elsewhere, Spanish prosecutors are already considering whether to take criminal proceedings against the air traffic controllers on charges of abandoning their posts.

If the controllers responsible are charged as guilty, but unable to pay the damages that are being claimed, the association is demanding that Spain's airport authority AENA should be held responsible.

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