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How Spain’s air traffic control strike could hit your travel plans

Many of Spain’s air traffic controllers have been called to strike over the next month. Find out which dates and which airports will be affected.

How Spain's air traffic control strike could hit your travel plans
Air traffic control strikes across Spain. Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

The workers’ unions USCA and CCOO have called around 162 air traffic controllers working at privatised control towers around the country to organise walkouts throughout February, affecting 28.5 percent of all air traffic in Spain.

The walkouts began on Monday January 30th and will continue every Monday until February 27th during “all work shifts that begin between 00:00 and 24:00,” they stated. Specifically, the strike days will occur on February 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th.

The airports affected by the strike will be A Coruña, Alicante-Elche, Castellón, Cuatro Vientos (Madrid), El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Jerez, Lanzarote, La Palma, Lleida, Murcia, Sabadell, Seville, Valencia and Vigo.

The Ministry of Transport has set minimum services depending on the type of route, which reaches 100 percent for emergency flights, the transfer of citizens or foreigners guarded by police officers and the transport of post and perishable products.  

For commercial flights with routes originating or ending at non-peninsular airports, the minimum services range between 52 percent from Lleida to 84 percent from La Coruña, depending on the estimated occupancy.

In the case of routes between foreign or Spanish cities whose travel time by road is at least five hours, the minimum services will be between 44 percent from La Palma and 57 percent from Alicante.  

For routes that can be replaced by other means of public transport in less than five hours, the minimum guaranteed services will be between 18 percent from Castellón and 30 percent from Vigo.

The workers are asking for a 5.5 percent salary increase but the proposal offered by their employers, which is 2 percent in 2023 and 2.5 percent in 2024, is “very far from their demands”.

The USCA and CCOO unions have decided to call the stoppages due to “the failure of the negotiations” with the Business Association of Civil Air Traffic Providers of the Liberalised Market (APCTA). They finally gave up trying to find a solution after several “unfruitful” meetings.

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Spain’s low cost train company Iryo launches Andalusia services

The high-speed train company Iryo began its services between Madrid and Andalusia on Friday, March 31st.

Spain’s low cost train company Iryo launches Andalusia services

More than thirty years the highspeed AVE began operating in Andalusia, the low-cost offer from Iryo, privately owned by Air Nostrum, Globalvia and Trenitalia, becomes the first Renfe competitor to offer services to Córdoba, Seville and Málaga.

The Iryo high-speed train, like Renfe’s AVE, takes just two hours and 30 minutes between Seville Santa Justa and Madrid Puerta de Atocha stations. It will also connect these cities with Córdoba and Málaga en route.

READ ALSO: Three new low-cost train services launch between Málaga and Madrid

The three Andalusian routes begin to operate this Friday with four daily services, two in each direction. The company has stated that they offer schedules from early in the morning until late at night, with competitive prices in four classes.

To open the routes, the operator launched the sale of 250,000 flexible tickets at €18 to travel on any date in 2023, a promotion that ended last Sunday, March 26th. Due to these sales, the company expects an average occupancy rate of 75 percent on its trains until the end of the year.

Iryo has even predicted that occupancy will reach 100 percent on some routes, which would be “good data driven by the start of Holy Week”, according to sources from the company.

READ ALSO: The best of Spain’s Semana Santa train offers

The Iryo brand began operations in Barcelona in November 2022 and has also expanded to ​​Valencia, planning to continue opening new destinations this year. The services are due to arrive in Antequera, Alicante and Albacete on June 2nd and, Tarragona, on June 15th.

The company will also continue to increase the frequency of its services with the aim of consolidating the routes that it already has available until it has 100 percent of its fleet in operation from September 2023.

Iryo has invested more than €1 billion in its Andalusia services and plans to have a direct contribution to the Andalusian economy of €28.7 million in wages and regional taxes in 2025. It will also create 660 jobs for ground, crew, operations, maintenance and administrative personnel in this same period.