22 days of industrial action could start April 20 and spread through summer
Spain’s airport workers have announced plans to strike, threatening 22 days of industrial action just before the busy Easter break which could severely disrupt holiday plans for millions, including those flying out, as well as into, Spanish airports.
Strikers intend to start on April 20, extending into dates in May, June, July and August, and although baggage handlers will not be involved, runway staff will join the industrial action.
After Spanish airport workers walked out in early December last year, the Spanish army had to step in, but the new strikes could have even more disastrous consequences, affecting the mainland as well as popular resorts like Mallorca, Ibiza and the Canary Islands. Spanish ground staff are protesting against the possible privatisation of parts of AENA, the state-owned airport operator which runs the country’s airports.
The action would hit budget airlines including EasyJet, Ryanair, Monarch and bmibaby. Last year, Spain was the top holiday destination for Britons according to the CAA who say 28 million people flew there.
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary and others are calling on the Spanish government and EU to prevent the strikes which would have a potentially disastrous effect on the Spanish economy – Spain is heavily reliant on tourism and like other EU countries has been struggling with high unemployment and a weak economy.
Mr O’Leary insisted: "Action must be taken at EU level to ensure that the ‘right to strike’ is removed from essential airport services, and competition must be introduced across Europe’s air traffic control providers to ensure that a strike in one country is not be allowed to disrupt millions of passengers’ travel plans.”
If it goes ahead the strike will be bad timing because it coincides with the spring break and could come at the same time that British Airways cabin crew may also go on strike. (BA crew are in the process of voting to decide whether to take strike action).
Spain’s tourist industry has made considerable gains in the recent wake of unrest in Tunisia and Egypt but this news will be a blow to its economy – and to British families – if strikes go ahead. 12,500 Spanish ground staff are involved in the action which could shut down virtually every airport in the country and its islands.