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Spain to crackdown on Air Traffic Controllers pay

Tue 19th Jan 2010

Scots heading for the Spanish Costas this summer could be facing travel misery due to a row over Spanish air traffic controllers' pay.

The Spanish government wants to drastically reduce salaries after it was revealed that some controllers are earning as much as 800,000 a year. But it is expected that it could spark a "summer of discontent" resulting in strikes and delays which could ruin holiday plans.

Spanish air traffic controllers have held numerous strikes over the past few years, resulting in causing travel hell for holidaymakers.

Jose Blanco, the Government's Minister of Development, proposes to end the high wages and plans to slash more than 11million off air traffic control costs. He said: "I have taken the decision to take the bull by the horns and end the privileges of these controllers."

Recent figures have shown that out of 2'300 air traffic controllers employed by Spain's state operators AENA, 10 were paid between 725,000 and 800,000 last year - 10 times the salary of the Spanish prime minister. In Britain, the average wage of a controller is around 60,000.

Just last month, passengers were hit by long delays because of staff shortages among controllers in the Canary Islands, and several weeks ago, two runways were closed at Madrid Barajas airport for the same reason.

Spanish air traffic controllers also caused heavy delays in 2002 and 2003 by striking.

In 2003, they proposed 10 days of summer strikes because of a proposed change in the law they claimed would limit their rights. And in June 2002, hundreds of flights were cancelled after they ordered strikes to protest against unemployment benefit reforms.

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