Spain says to declare state of alert if air traffic chaos continue

18:15, December 04, 2010      

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The chaos caused by a wildcat strike by Spain's air-traffic controllers Friday afternoon continued Saturday morning and the government threatened to declare a state of alert.

A cabinet meeting on Saturday morning said a state of alert would be declared if the strikers refused to return to work.

Early reports indicate that, although three transatlantic flights were able to land at Madrid's Barajas airport overnight, there were no other aircraft movements.

Spain's airports are all closed with passengers told to stay at home until further notice, while the airspace over the majority of the country is also closed to air traffic.

There was no news on whether controllers scheduled for the morning shift Saturday had reported for work and all flights in Spain were grounded until at least 11 a.m. local time.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Government was holding an emergency cabinet meeting to decide how best to deal with the situation, which has left over 250,000 passengers stranded at the start of a holiday weekend.

Everything points to military air traffic controllers taking control of the situation should their civilian counterparts not return to work, as announced by Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba on Friday night.

"Given that the representatives of the controllers have refused to change their attitude, we have proceeded, in agreement with the constitution and with the current laws, to use the mechanisms that we had previously predicted," Rubalcaba said.

Spain's air-traffic controllers, according to the Spanish Public Works Ministry, "abandoned their workplace in massive numbers."

The strikers gave no warning of their impending action so that many passengers were forced to disembark after their planes had been on the runway preparing for takeoff.

Source: Xinhua


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