Spanish airspace reopens after wildcat strike

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Spanish airspace reopens after wildcat strike

Spanish airspace reopens after wildcat strike
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Airspace in Spain has reopened with traffic controllers returning to work after a wildcat strike.

The government was forced to declare its first state of emergency since the end of the Franco regime to force the controllers back to work.

Legal action was threatened against the staff, who are locked in a dispute over pay and conditions.

“I’m delighted, very happy,” said one Italian passenger at Madrid’s Barajas airport. “It’s been horrible, not knowing anything all night.”

But there are warnings it could take up to two days for air traffic to return to normal.

Another passenger said: “The controllers displayed breathtaking arrogance, holding us like hostages: children, the elderly, people who can’t stay here all night. It’s humiliating.”

The military took over control towers on Friday after thousands of people had their travel plans disrupted on what is normally one of Spain’s busiest holiday weekends.

Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba

said: “The air controllers are now ‘mobilised’, which means if they don’t go back to work, they run the risk of facing charges under the military penal code.”

The unofficial walkout by the controllers began with many of them calling in sick, and came after cabinet approval of changes to rules on their working hours.