Controller Strike Shuts Down Madrid, Spain Air Travel

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A huge air traffic controller sickout Friday shut down eight airports, including Madrid's international airport, caused traveller chaos throughout Spain.

A sickout is a type of strike action in which the strikers call in sick. The controllers left their posts due to disputes over working conditions, wages and privileges. This strike also happened within hours of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodrigo Zapatero's approval of a measure to partially privatize airports acorss the country.

Some passengers waited for hours in planes ready for takeoff before the planes returned to the gates and asked them to exit. Thousands of people spent the night in Madrid's airport Friday night, not sure whether they would be able to get on their flight or not.

Monday and Wednesday are national holidays in Spain, and many Spaniards use the time to take a five-day weekend.

About 4 million people had flights booked during this period.

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