MADRID – The Spanish government has ended a 43-day military control over its air space, after a December strike by air traffic controllers forced the country to shut down its air space for 24 hours iand remain on high alert.
Air traffic control is now returned to civil powers and army members will stop supervising aerial navigation and will move away from control towers at the airports.
The government was aiming at guaranteeing travel for citiziens ‘without problems’ after Spanish air traffic unions demanded higher pay and other measures as part of a collective bargaining agreement from the AENA, the Spanish agency that regulates airports and aerial navigation. The disagreement led to an air space shut down Dec. 4 that lasted for 24 hours.
Now that the state of alert has been let off, AENA’s president trusts that controllers will return to their normal schedules although most have been doing so for the past month. Despite retuning to some normalcy, the Spanish government has decided to authorize 100 military air controllers to operate in civil airports on special occasions to avoid shut downs in the future.
AENA, together with labor unions, has returned to the negotiating table. It will meet every day until Jan. 31 to attempt to strike a new agreement with unions.
Once the negotiations are over on Jan. 31, both sides present the areas where there is agreement and the areas of contention to the Spanish government. On Feb. 28, the government then will issue a binding decision which both sides will have to abide.
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