Wednesday 29 March 2017

Spain’s airports face Easter disruption in controller pay row

Gianluca Baratti

Spanish air traffic controllers may disrupt travel over the Easter holiday following a breakdown in talks about plans to slash their €334,000 average annual salary by about 40pc.

Controllers will stage a work to rule in April, forcing flights to be delayed or cancelled, if a deal is not reached with employer Aeropuertos Espanoles y Navegacion Aerea SA by the end of March, their union said in a statement today.

Spain, facing the largest budget deficit since at least 1980, plans to sell a 30pc stake in Aena by June as the company racks up losses of as much as €160m a year.

The deficit is mostly due to controller wages, which are among the highest in Europe, Development Minister Jose Blanco has said.

“Air traffic controllers think Aena is looking to force a conflict to justify imposing unilateral measures outside of the negotiations,” Union Sindical de Controladores Aereos, which represents 95pc of controllers, said in the statement.

Aena is seeking to revise pay terms as an existing deal expires on March 31. A spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted by telephone today.

Controllers are currently contracted to work 1,200 hours a year, plus 600 hours of agreed overtime at a higher rate, union spokesman Rafael Lopez said in an interview January 29. Aena wants to include some overtime in the standard contract, he said.

The Easter holiday, which this year falls between April 2 and April 5, is one of the busiest travel periods in Europe.

Bloomberg

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