Spain calls in military to deal with air traffic controllers strike

The Spanish government has confirmed Friday that the military will take control of the country's air traffic control following an unannounced strike by Spain's air traffic controllers that has caused chaos in the country.

An emergency cabinet meeting of the Spanish Government decided to send military air-traffic controllers to the airports of Seville, Madrid, Barcelona and in the Canary Islands as a result of the lightening strike that led to the country's airspace being closed.

Air traffic controllers all over Spain walked out without prior warning at 5 p.m. local time in an action that left planes stranded on the tarmac all over the country.

The Spanish Ministry of Defense has sent personnel to the airports of Valladolid, Murcia, Salamanca, Talavera de la Reina, Badajoz, Leon, Zaragoza and Albacete.
"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," said Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.
The government has acted quickly in the face of an unannounced strike by Spain's air-traffic controllers, who according to the Spanish Public Works Ministry "abandoned their workplace in massive numbers," two hours after their change of shift at 5 p.m. local time.
The action happened just as Spain is beginning a holiday weekend: the Puente de Constitution, with millions of people taking advantage of what for many is a five-day weekend to travel to areas such as the Canary and Balearic Islands.
At least 250,000 passengers were stranded by the action and all of Spain's airports and airspace was closed as a result. The Air Traffic Controllers confirmed that it is a "spontaneous" protest against the government's new rules on their working hours.
Latest reports from Spain say that civilian air traffic controllers have reported to Madrid airport, but refused to work, while 50 percent of the controllers have reported to work at Barcelona's El Prat airport.