Spain military takes over nation’s air traffic control

Spain’s military took control of the nation’s airspace last night after air traffic controllers staged a massive sickout that stranded at least 330,000 travellers on the eve of a long holiday weekend, forcing the government to shut down Madrid’s big international hub and seven other airports.

Passengers wait for news about their flights at T1 terminal of El Prat Llobregat airport in El Prat Llobregat, near Barcelona. Image:AP

About six hours after the sickout started, causing total travel chaos, Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba announced that the Defense Ministry had “taken control of air traffic in all the national territory.”

He said the army would make all decisions on air traffic control, organisation, planning and supervision. If enough controllers do not show up for work today to restore normal flight operations, the government will declare a national emergency that would force them to do so, Rubalcaba said. No-show controllers will face unspecified criminal charges punishable by “serious prison time,” he said.


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