Spanish air traffic controllers are set to heap more misery on holidaymakers this summer.
Major industrial action will be decided later this month following a bitter dispute about staffing numbers in the airport towers in Majorca and Ibiza – two favourite destinations for Brits.
The nightmare scenario could spell a repeat of the 2010 carnage, which saw the military take over Spain’s air traffic control when workers called in sick en masse, forcing the closure of several airports and stranding thousands of travellers.
There has not been any official announcement from the air traffic controllers’ union USCA, but a spokesperson told local media a strike was on the cards.
It comes after passengers were left waiting up to seven hours at UK airports this week, as widespread staff shortages blighted any hopes for a stress-free break this half-term.
Hundreds of flights have been delayed or cancelled in recent weeks, with police officers brought in to control the chaos.
EasyJet blamed a software failure for a wave of cancellations that stranded some of its passengers overseas at the weekend.
It is also axing more than 200 further flights from Gatwick — 24 a day until next Monday — over issues including baggage handling delays, runway works and air traffic control restrictions.
‘We are sorry for the late notice of some of cancellations and inconvenience caused for customers. However, we believe this is necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period,’ a company spokesman said.
Tui also cancelled flights as thousands of families faced long queues at Manchester, Stansted and Bristol airports.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told travel chiefs to sort out the mess in crisis talks yesterday. But Union Unite has warned that unless airline and airport bosses resolved the crisis before July, the ‘chaos will last the entire summer season.’
Additional reporting by Natalia Penza
What should you do if you miss your flight due to long queues?
Crucial to any insurance claim is receipts, whether it be a bus ticket or parking stub.
But before reaching that stage, it is important to ‘make a fuss’.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Millions of holidaymakers set to jet off this half-term and bank holiday weekend are frankly panicked by last-minute flight cancellations by some airlines and unacceptably long queues at airport security, check-in and bag drop.
‘Reassuringly, the number of people who have missed a flight because of queues is very low. But if you are stuck in a queue and your flight is due to depart shortly, make a fuss and ask a member of staff to take you to the front. If it looks like you’ll miss the flight through no fault of your own, it is important to tell your airline as soon as you can. Buried in the T&Cs of many airlines is a promise to help, and some will let you rebook for free in such instances.
‘Travellers who miss a flight due to extraordinary circumstances may be able to claim on their insurance. Evidence that you turned up at the time advised by the airport or airline could be crucial, so keep your bus ticket or parking stub, and any receipts from shops or restaurants inside the terminal.’
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