Wow. This is nearly unprecedented. There’s goes the holiday, folks. Spain is in TOTAL Travel Chaos in Spain!!!
Spanish air traffic controllers have called a massive UNscheduled strike, a simultaneous walk-out, according to AENA, for not only today Friday but also tomorrow Saturday and likely into Sunday. This strike affects ALL of Spain – except Andalucia. Huh? Not Andalucia?? Why not?
“The controllers left their posts amid a lengthy dispute over working conditions and just hours after the administration of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodrigo Zapatero approved an austerity measure to partially privatize airports, and to hand over management of Madrid and Barcelona airports to the private sector.” – AP News
“The dispute intensified in February when the government restricted overtime and thus cut average pay of controllers from (EURO)350,000 ($463,610) a year to around (EURO)200,000 ($264,920).” – AP News
For those not living in Spain, you may not know that this coming Monday and Wednesday are national holidays and so many many people are… ummm… were taking advantage of the “puente” long weekend.
A friend of mine just called me from Madrid Barajas Airport giving me the news of their canceled flight. They wanted me to check online for information about their hotel and car rental reservations in Italy – where they’d planned to spend the long holiday weekend. Now, chances are, the entire trip will be scrapped.
They say 250,000 person are stranded or stuck at Spanish airports, not only those leaving Spain but also those wanting to return TO Spain. Hundreds more have literally been trapped for hours airplanes, not able to take off an not able to return to the gate. RENFE adds that no train tickets leaving Madrid remain.
This is big, folks. No doubt Madrid hotels will be full throughout the capital – and all Spanish cities. Those hundreds of waiting taxis outside of airports will be filled instantly. Metro trains will seem like rush hour. Imagine how many people with fewer resources sleeping throughout the airport terminals. People are FURIOUS.
The government is apologizing to its citizens and those affected for the strike. They say they may just “militarize” the situation, saying the controllers are not willing to negotiate.
5pm Sunday UPDATE: Spanish airspace open and planes taking off and landing but still with delays and back ups. Authorities claim it could be 48 hours more before a complete return to normalcy. Now, they say, “It’s time for justice”.
11 am Saturday UPDATE: Doctors are checking all air traffic controllers – one by one – to see if they’re really sick (the “claim” of the walk-out). Ryair, easyJet are saying they’ll likely cancel all flights until 6am Monday. Spanish airspace is set to reopen today at 1pm – but expect long delays (by days, in some cases).
4pm Saturday UPDATE: All Ryanair and easyJet flights to/from Madrid & Barcelona are canceled for today. All Iberia Airlines flights are canceled until 6am tomorrow morning and 10am for flights originating from or with destination to Spain.
2am Saturday UPDATE: The military has seized control of Spanish airports and returned them to operation – EXCEPT for that of Madrid and the Baleares Islands. Hmph. Barcelona night-shift air traffic controllers have returned to their posts.
11pm Friday UPDATE: The control towers of Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, and Canary Islands are under military control – and airports may well re-open as early as Saturday morning at 8am.
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