World

Spain Air Traffic Control Takeover Ends

El presidente del gobierno español José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero habla sobre la economía española durante el 2010, en una rueda de prensa en el madrileño Palacio de Laoncloa el 11 de enero del 2011. (Foto AP)

El presidente del gobierno español José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero habla sobre la economía española durante el 2010, en una rueda de prensa en el madrileño Palacio de Laoncloa el 11 de enero del 2011. (Foto AP)

Spain's government is getting out of the air traffic control business.

This on Saturday, after Spain's government ended an emergency measure that had placed the country's air traffic control under military authority to prevent strike action over the busy Christmas holiday period, announcing steps to prepare for future strikes.

The "state of alarm" measure which came into force Dec. 4, and was later extended to 43 days by parliament, was revoked by a decree signed on Saturday by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The government took the step of placing the country's airspace under military management after civilian air traffic controllers staged a 24-hour wildcat strike that closed Spain's airports and left 600,000 travelers stranded during a national holiday.

It was the first time Spain had implemented a "state of alarm" measure since the country returned to democracy in 1978.

At a video conference with the three heads of Spain's military high command, Defense Minister Carme Chacon summed up the period during which the military has been in charge of the country's airspace.

Chacon said 100 military air traffic controllers were being trained to step in should the threat of another strike loom. "We are not going to permit what occurred on Dec. 3 to happen again," Chacon said.

The minister said that under military control, air traffic controllers had overseen 150,000 flights transporting some 12 million passengers and 60,000 metric tons of cargo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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