A protest involving airport firefighters and ATC workers at the doors of Terminal 3 at Malaga Airport. SUR
Warning that privatisation of Malaga Airport’s control tower will lead to a major strike ahead of summer

Warning that privatisation of Malaga Airport’s control tower will lead to a major strike ahead of summer


The CCOO union has announced that all their 560 members at the Costa del Sol airfield would stop work and not just the ATC staff

Matías Stuber


Monday, 13 March 2023, 15:15

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If plans for the Spanish government’s planned privatisation of the air traffic control tower at Malaga Airport go ahead it will result in a major strike being called at the gateway to the Costa del Sol, ahead of the peak season, which starts on 26 March, coinciding with the change to summer time.

The CCOO union confirmed this Monday, 13 March, that the materialisation of the Ministry of Transport privatisation plans would lead to the "immediate call" of a strike of the entire workforce that it has at the Aena facility in Malaga. Aena is the airport operator of the airfield.

CCOO general secretary for the airport staff, José Muñoz, announced that there is "absolute harmony" between all the departments that operate in Malaga. In total, there are some 560 workers, of which 86 belong to the control tower staff.

Unions and workers have intensified their rejection of the privatisation of the control tower, alluding to the fact that "quality of service will be lost" and that the liberalisation of this fundamental part of air traffic will not mean any real savings in economic terms. The only thing that would be achieved, according to what CCOO said, would be a diversion of costs to benefit the private companies that take charge of the control towers.

"It is opening the doors for the private part of Aena to obtain more benefits," said Muñoz. It should be remembered that Aena is a public company, but that it is 49% owned by private capital.

The protest that was called at the doors of Terminal 3 was attended by air traffic controllers and added the support of the airport firefighters, who wanted to show "solidarity" with their colleagues. According to Muñoz, it was a clear example that "there is full awareness among the entire workforce of taking the step to strike if, finally, the tower is privatised."

Salvador Salas

"We know that it would be like opening the box of firecrackers and that it would be the first step to privatise other services that are provided at the airport."

The firm will of the unions to stop the operation of the airport adds new pressure on the Spanish government. The desire to privatise the ATC tower in Malaga, in addition to those at the airports of Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife South, Tenerife North, Gran Canaria, Bilbao and Santiago, is part of a ministerial order from the Ministry of Transport. In theory, this order does not require approval by the Cabinet.

However, as confirmed by sources from the Ministry to SUR, the order has generated "some discomfort" in PSOE itself and a "total rejection" on the part of Unidas Podemos. This explains why a proposal to “review the control towers privatisation process” ​​has gone ahead in Congress.

The protest this Monday was also attended by representatives of Izquierda Unida and Podemos. The Andalusian general secretary, Toni Valero, and the candidate for Malaga City Council, Remedios Ramos, attended for the Izquierda Unida. On behalf of Podemos, there was the deputy in Congress, Rafael Mayoral, who is also a spokesman for Unidas Podemos in the Transport commission, and the candidate for the mayor of Malaga position in the May municipal elections, Nicolás Sguiglia.

In the event that the initiative to privatise the airport control tower did finally go ahead, the current controllers would be replaced by new ones, with hardly any previous experience; while the staff in Malaga will be assigned to approach tasks or to other control centres in Seville, Madrid, Barcelona or Palma.

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