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The Traveller's Magazine
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Update: if you are looking for information about September 29th strike, please read our latest article.

Air traffic controllers are making history in Spain this month. For the first time, they will participate in a legal union strike that will last for three days, potentially disrupting the travel of up to 2 million airline passengers, around 300,00 of which will be Britions.

Vacationers heading to Spain this month for their holiday should watch out, they may be some of the millions stranded at home or in Spain waiting for flights home or to their final holiday destination.

Air traffic controller’s wages in Spain were reduced in February earlier this year by about 40% after it came to light that some were making as much as £800,000 yearly (just for comparison’s sake, air traffic controllers in the UK make £60-90,000 a year). The current average wage after cutbacks is £167,000.

This is the summer for air traffic controller strikes it seems and many traveller’s plans in Spain and France have be disrupted due to these strikes, let alone the exhaustively ongoing cabin crew strike at British Airways.

Although the official strike date isn’t set, there are plans for it to start on August 18th, 2010.

Airlines like Ryanair are pleading with the government to step in and draft military personnel to do the job so that flights can still operate. Tourism makes up 11% of Spain’s totally economy and a hiccup like this could do some serious damage.

What to do if Spain’s air traffic controllers strike?

  • Travellers should stay in touch with their airlines and watch for updates on cancelled flights to Spain on the airline company’s website before heading to the airport.
  • Passengers will likely have the option of re-booking for free on a later flight or being refunded if the first option isn’t possible.
  • The best way to protect yourself during a strike like this is to have flexible travel dates. Can you leave a few days later? Are your other plans fixed? Try as best as possible to stay flexible at least until you find out more information on your flights.
  • Go somewhere else. If your flight is cancelled and you’re offered a refund, why not grab a cheap flight to Greece instead?
  • Read the fine print: does your travel insurance cover labour disruptions? If so, you’re in the clear. You’ll have no problem re-booking or getting your money back.

**If you need to search for alternative flights or last minute hotels because your holidays will be disrupted, use to find your travel deals from among 250 sites and 600 airlines.

Img: anjin / flickr cc

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31 responses to “Air traffic controllers plan to strike in Spain

  1. katie
    Although flying on 21st, so should be OK re the Spanish strike, do you have any more information on the UK baggage handlers going on strike? The press is saying up to the bank holiday but is no clearer on dates?

  2. Spanish newspapers have not given any new information in the last minutes/hours.
    There is nothing confirmed so far; furthermore, and even if there is a strike, the minimum services have to be implemented.

  3. Hi Katie, take a look at my reply to Vinay (above), looks like you'll be able to make it to your nephew's charity event after all!
    All the best,

  4. No, this isn't true. Air traffic controllers have planned a meeting with the Spanish government for this Thursday to decide whether or not they will strike. Given that the union must give 10 days notice before striking, it means that the absolute earliest a strike can take place is August 22nd. This means that all those of you travelling on the 18th should be fine!

  5. I live in Spain and am supposed to be going to the UK on the 18th to be at a charity day set up for my nephew who has cerebral palsy, I will be gutted if i cant get there 🙁 will i need insurance to get a refund?

  6. The negotiating timetable means no flight before Aug. 22 will be affected, as airline sector labour action must be announced at least 10 days in advance, El Pais newspaper said.

  7. Hi Mike!
    As long as your flight doesn't stopover in Spain, I think you'll be all right!
    Better double check with your airline though…

  8. I'm flying to Faro (portugal) that day with easyjet from Bristol – anyone know if that route flies over spain?

  9. M

    Me too, flying to a villa (we wont get the money back for that) to see family, we need to get back for a certain date and thinking I mayhave to cancel the whole thing, left it late to book due to dust cloud – wont enjoy holiday wondering if we can get home, also dog in care that has to be considered too.. feel ill with sadness.

  10. Obviously the union do not realise how much the Spanish economy relies on tourism,and before long there will not be any planes to control.The sooner travel companies pull out of Iberia the better.Egypt looks tempting.

  11. If they go ahead they will cripple their economy now just for this year but for future years as well. We have worked hard for our holiday and to be honest barely afforded it this year. If my holiday gets mucked up I may well reconsider what we do next year. How many other holiday makers will do the same?

  12. Wot shite! I am so looking forward to getting my bikini on to think I may lose holiday time is criminal. All we can do is pray it will get sorted. Money grabbing buggers!!!

  13. iv just rang ryanair and they sed that they will contact us 72 hrs before we even go away telling us of the plan… wot a load of shit… .. im due to fly to ibiza on 18th august and i hope to god i get there…

  14. Outrageous! When will they realise that this will hurt their cause..they have to endure cuts because of the economy so they react by damaging it further? I am praying this is all scare tactics and nothing comes of it since I'm supposedly flying out on the 18th,,,

  15. Wow so many responses! If they do strike, it will definitely upset a lot of traveller's plan that's for sure. I'll keep you posted here on what's happening, so check back again!

    @Lizzybizzydunnette, as far as I know, it includes the Balearic Islands as well since the union is nation-wide.

    You should check your travel insurance, many plans cover labour disputes like this one and you'll be able to re-book or get your money back.

  16. This is ridiculads we pay money to go to places look forward to them go for a break and its more stressfull than ever! all the kids are of school wanting to go on holiday but instead people are faffing around at the other end, if its not a vocano its a strike! ridiculas!

  17. i would like to add this is a discrace sum plp cant afford alot of money to save to go sumhwere exotic … is it mainland spain or the balerics aswell ?

  18. My family and myself are also due to fly out from bristol on the 18th August and like thousands of others we have saved hard and were lookin forward to this holiday, we booked a villa seperate to flights also, so i am now feeling sick with worry and pray for all of us that this gets sorted.

  19. I hope this gets sorted soon, we have a villa booked separately from the flights and direct through the owner so no chance of a refund!

  20. Cannot believe i didn't train to be a Spanish Air traffic controller.. how much do they earn… 800K…is this right…? I am due to fly with my family, for our first holiday abroad in 5 years, on 21st…. 8ooK…it beggars belief

  21. I am disgusted!!! my family are due to fly out on the 18th from bristol to santa ponsa we have saved hard and are looking forward to our well earned break!! only to be spoilt by some bunch of greedy workers!!! its always the same in the run up to bank holidays!!! SHAME ON YOU ALL!!!

  22. In the current economic climate if you have a job your lucky. Holding there goverment to ransom using innocent holiday makers that have saved hard to have their annual holiday disgusts me!

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