The Spanish military was called in to take control of the country's airspace yesterday after air traffic controllers staged an unauthorised walkout over working conditions. The controllers called in sick en masse.
At 9:30 am, an emergency Royal Decree was signed ordering the Ministry of Defence to call in the army to take control of air traffic in all the national territory. An emergency cabinet meeting was scheduled for 9am this morning where they will likely declare a State of Emergency.
The controllers, who are the best paid in Europe with annual salaries of up to one million euros, have been in dispute with the socialist government for a year over plans, ratified this week, to partly privatise the Spanish state airports authority, AENA.
Their timing could not be worse. There are two public holidays next week on Monday and Wednesday with many taking the Tuesday off as well, so Spaniards along with other travellers would have been at the airports ready to get away.