canary islands

The air traffic controllers’ strike: what should you know if you travel to the Canaries?

Air traffic controllers are external personnel of the airline and, as a general rule, the affected passengers are not entitled to financial compensation.

In light of the air traffic controllers’ strike starting this Monday at a total of 16 airports in Spain, air passengers should know that while they are not entitled to financial compensation, the airlines are required to provide them with alternative transport, as informs the passenger advocacy organisation Airhelp.

The two Spanish unions have announced a strike involving a total of 160 air traffic controllers at 16 national airports (A Coruña, Alicante-Elche, Castellón, Cuatro Vientos, El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Jerez, Lanzarote, La Palma, Lleida, Murcia, Sabadell, Sevilla, Valencia, Vigo) from Monday. The 24-hour stoppages have been scheduled for the next five Mondays, starting on 30 January. This is likely to lead to delays and cancellations of scheduled flights, leaving many passengers stranded.

Therefore, AirHelp, an organisation specialised in defending the rights of air passengers, recalls the rights of passengers who are affected by this air traffic controllers’ strike, which is expected to take place every Monday of next month.

First of all they remind that passengers have the right to complain. Due to the strike, many passengers may not arrive at their destination as planned, so they have the right to alternative transport after a delay of more than three hours. The booking of a new flight must be made by the airline itself. In the case of domestic flights, a train ticket may be offered as an alternative.

If the airline does not take this initiative, the passengers concerned have the right to request re-routing after a delay of three hours from the scheduled departure time. If the request is still not honoured, these passengers will be able to find alternative transport themselves, and subsequently talk to the airline to cover the costs.

In the case of a delay of more than five hours, or with an alternative departure after this moderate weather, the airline is also obliged to reimburse the full price of the ticket. In the case of delays of more than two hours and a distance of more than 1,500 kilometres, the airline must also provide passengers with food and drink at the airport. In addition, it must facilitate two telephone calls or two e-mails.

If the delay or cancellation would force passengers to stay overnight, the airline must also provide accommodation and transport to and from the airport. In any case, it is advisable to claim this service from the airline, AirHelp says.


As this is an air traffic controllers’ strike, as a general rule, the affected passengers are not entitled to financial compensation, as they are external personnel of the airline.

According to the law regulating flights departing from or arriving in the EU, passengers are entitled to additional compensation of up to 600 euros in the event of delays of more than 3 hours on arrival at destination, cancellations without prior notice within 14 days of departure and passengers denied boarding due to overbooking caused by the airline.

The claim for financial compensation can be made retroactively up to three years after the flight date.

Scroll to Top