Spanish air controllers begin 4 days of partial strikes

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s air traffic controllers began four days of partial strikes Monday that could cause major traffic disruptions as the summer vacation season gets underway.

The stoppages were scheduled to take place between 10 a.m. and noon and between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, and again on June 10, 12 and 14.

The USCA controllers’ union called the strikes to protest penalties imposed on members after a 24-hour strike in 2010.

A spokesman for Spain’s air navigation company, Enaire, said they had no immediate details on the number of flights affected in the first strike period. He said up to 1,300 flights could be affected during the two strike periods Monday.

He spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with company policy.

Government-imposed minimum staffing services of 70 percent could minimize the effect of the stoppage.

In Madrid, only a handful of flights suffered minor delays in the first strike period.

USCA pressed ahead with the strike after negotiations with Enaire last week ended without agreement. Enaire said no further talks to resolve the dispute are planned for the moment.

Spain placed the country’s airspace under military management in December 2010 after controllers staged a 24-hour wildcat strike over work conditions that closed Spain’s airports and left 600,000 travelers stranded ahead of a national holiday.

It was the first time Spain had implemented a “state of alarm” since the country returned to democracy in 1978.