Stranded Britons hoping to return
British tourists hit by travel woes caused by striking Spanish air traffic controllers are returning home, but have been warned of further delays caused by a backlog of flights.
Airlines including Ryanair and Easyjet laid on extra flights in a bid to get passengers back to the UK today after thousands were stranded in Spain.
The chaos began on Friday when the wildcat strike began in a row with the government over working conditions and pay. It eventually ended after the government stepped in by calling a state of alarm, threatening striking workers with prison terms.
It is thought about 20,000 British travellers in Spain were affected, with others stuck in the UK unable to take their flights as planned.
Spanish civil aviation agency Aena said all airports in the country are now functioning normally. Of 296 workers due to work today, 286 reported for duty. They estimated more than 600,000 passengers faced disruption because of the industrial action.
Ryanair put on three extra flights from Lanzarote, Las Palmas and Tenerife to Stansted and Luton airports, allowing their passengers to transfer on to the flights free of charge. Easyjet operated 14 "rescue flights" to collect stranded passengers but warned of delays, urging passengers to check their website for details.
Both had cancelled flights on Saturday, along with Iberia, who said they were "gradually resuming" their flights.
Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) spokesman Sean Tipton said: "Things are slowly returning to normal, but if people are flying out today, and to some extent on Monday, they should be checking with their airline or tour operator.
"There is still a knock-on effect that could mean flights are delayed."
Professional cyclist Magnus Backstedt, who lives in south Wales, was one of those stranded. He took to Twitter to say he was making alternative travel plans today, telling followers: "Bus from Barcelona to Toulouse. Hope flights do leave from there. Roadtrip! All I want is to make it home for my little one's b-day on Mon."
The walk-out took place after Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his ministers approved a package of austerity measures - including a move to partially privatise airports and hand over management of the Madrid and Barcelona airports to the private sector.
Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Aena will investigate all air traffic controllers who failed to show up for work without due justification. A prosecutor is also determining whether they could be punished, and travellers are filing complaints.
It came in a week when passengers scheduled to fly in and out of British airports faced travel chaos as a result of the widespread snow that has hit the UK.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
It's Italian, but it's definitely not Italy: Stephen Wood visits Lampedusa, an island beyond the map's edge, where North Africa meets Rome and even the sharks are poets
How double-decker trains would improve Britain's railways
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The 10 Best hiking boots
French air-traffic strike: Planned industrial action called off
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...
Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...
£25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...