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Strikes in Spain complicate Easter travel plans

Air Nostrum has canceled 148 flights while passengers at Madrid-Barajas airport faced lines of over an hour to pass through security controls

huelga aerea semana santa 2019
Lines to pass through security controls at Madrid-Barajas airport. EFE

Strikes called by labor unions at some of Spain’s main transportation companies have complicated travel plans for the start of the Easter holidays.

On Monday, Air Nostrum pilots began their first day of a six-day, 24-hour strike, which will continue on April 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24. As a result of the stoppage, Air Nostrum has canceled 148 flights – a move that will affect 10,000 passengers in the first three days. The airline has said that it will evaluate the result of the first round of strikes before deciding to cancel more flights in the last three days of the planned work stoppage.

Spain’s Public Works Ministry has set minimum services that will allow Air Nostrum to operate 76.4% of the 627 flights scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The minimum services also outline that all flights to and from the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Melilla, a Spanish exclave city in north Africa, must go ahead as planned, as well as all public service obligation (PSO) flights in the Spanish peninsula (Almería-Sevilla, Badajoz-Madrid and Badajoz-Barcelona). According to the minimum services, the airline must provide between 29% and 31% of flights between Spanish cities where alternative travel would take less than five hours, and between 45% and 47% of flights where the alternative is more than five hours, and for those which connect to international destinations.

Air Nostrum has said that passengers affected by the cancellations can ask for a refund, or choose to fly on a different flight and date before May 10, according to availability.

The pilot union Sepla called the strike of Air Nostrum pilots to protest a growing transfer of flights to other airlines within the Iberia group. Sepla said that this trend jeopardizes the future of the company and the working conditions of the company pilots.

Long lines in Madrid-Barajas airport

Strikes called by workers at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport have also affected travelers. Private security workers from the company Ilunion, which is a subsidiary of the ONCE foundation, began an open-ended strike on Friday to demand better salaries.

This is the current situation at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport.

Strike in the security checkpoint at T2 and T3 of Madrid airport. Endless lines. Anyone flying should come ahead of time.

According to airport staff, the work stoppage caused “chaos” on Sunday, when passengers were forced to wait in line for up to an hour and a half to pass through security controls at the airport’s four terminals. The ATES workers union, which called the strike, has asked travelers to be “patient” in the face of possible “chaotic situations.”

Meanwhile, airport ground handling staff have planned a strike for April 21 and 24, when many travelers are expected to return from Easter holidays. The work stoppage has been called by the unions UGT and USO, which represent 60,000 workers from different companies. The call comes after failed talks with the employers’ association.

Rail worker strikes

The CCOO trade union has called on workers from Adif, which manages Spanish railway infrastructure; High-Speed Adif, the state port authority and the maritime rescue service to strike on April 17 to demand the government approve the preliminary agreements on collective agreements that were made between March and December 2018.

Security guards who work with the Spanish state-owned railway service Renfe in Madrid will also strike for two hours every day between April 18 and 28.

Meanwhile, Semaf, the largest train driver union at Renfe, has called a 24-hour strike for April 23, coinciding with the return date for many Easter travelers. The union says the company has failed to honor professional development agreements for driving personnel.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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