Further flight delays can be expected in Palma and across Spain again this weekend as air traffic controllers appear determined to continue with their overtime ban. Yesterday USCA, air traffic control union representatives met the Association of Spanish Airlines for talks, but, as the solution appears to lie in the hands of the Minister for Development, no solution was found. Air traffic controllers want to see more people recruited to ease the burden and an improvement in working conditions. However, while controllers at Madrid and Barcelona airports, for example, are working under intense pressure every day of the year, in Palma, the control tower is relatively quiet for eight months of the year. Needless to say, the longest delays suffered by holidaymakers last weekend were at Palma and Malaga airports, where delays reached up to three hours. The Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Benigno Blanco, said yesterday that he is prepared to co-operate with air traffic controllers, but asked them in turn to make an effort, show good faith, and not cause any more damage to Spain's tourist industry this weekend. Benigno said that the controllers' industrial action is unfair on all air travellers as no attempt was made to negotiate a deal before calling the overtime ban. What is more, according to the secretary of state, all the targets of the 1999-2004 deal signed with the air traffic controllers, have and are being met. He also pointed out that training air traffic controllers takes time and that increasing staff in the towers is an objective that can only be achieved in the long term. In the short term however, thousands of tourists will face flight disruptions again this weekend.

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