Spain Starts Sale Of Control Tower Services

December 29, 2010

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Spain kicked off the privatisation of control towers at 13 airports managed by airports authority AENA, sources at the Public Works Ministry said on Wednesday.

The process will be carried out in three phases and is expected to take about seven months, a senior ministry source said.

The government announced mid-December that it planned to privatise the management of the control towers to boost AENA's coffers ahead of its partial privatisation.

The proposal also came hot on the heels of a wildcat strike by air traffic controllers at the beginning of December which paralysed airports and caused the government to declare its first state of emergency in the post-Franco era.

The ministry sources said AENA met the air traffic controllers union USCA on Tuesday to inform them about the privatisation plans.

Air traffic controllers can either agree to take up a contract with the new management of the control towers or, in the event they reject that option, AENA will offer them a job at other airports which are not involved in the privatisation process, the sources said.

If the controllers reject both options, their contracts will be terminated and they will be paid off, they said.

Spanish builders ACS, Ferrovial and FCC have all submitted requests for licenses to operate the airports, the sources said.