Spanish pilots, airport staff plan December strikes

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Spanish airline pilots Thursday announced they plan to strike this month, although not during the Christmas holiday period, to protest working conditions.

They will be joining workers at the country's airport authority, AENA, who plan a walkout over the government's plan to partially privatise the company.

The pilots' strike will not coincide with "key dates" of the Christmas period and will "do as little harm as possible to air travelers," Javier Martinez de Velasco, the head of Sepla, the airline pilots association, told a news conference.

Sepla is to announce next week the exact dates of the strike in December.

The association has slammed the "repeated failure" of the transport ministry to ease pilots' working hours, which it said are above maximum thresholds allowed under European law.

Unions representing AENA workers on Thursday announced a strike for during the Christmas period.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced Wednesday the government plans to sell off 49 percent of AENA, more than the 30-percent it had originally planned.

Pilots from the Spanish flag carrier Iberia in late 2008 and early 2009 staged a more than one-month-long strike that affected some 850,000 air travelers.

© 2010 AFP

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