A second weekend of air delays has been averted, Spanish airport authority AENA and the air traffic controllers' union, USCA, reached a deal over working conditions late on Wednesday night. The union confirmed yesterday morning that the overtime ban has been lifted and that AENA has agreed to co-operate with the USCA in order to solve air traffic controllers' problems. AENA has agreed to improve health and safety conditions and ease stress levels in air traffic control towers, recruit more controllers and update training methods. Controllers claim that the continual increase in European air traffic needs to be matched with a steady rise in the number of air traffic controllers, especially with regards to safety. News that a deal has been reached and the dispute over was welcomed by the Association of Spanish Airlines yesterday, although the body's president Felipe Navio, said that the time has come for the government to privatise air traffic control training. Navio warned that with the continual increases in air traffic, future control tower disputes have got to be avoided at all costs. But, he said that unless the training process is overhauled and released from the controls of the unions and improved, there will be future protests. “Until it is privatised and we have a much bigger reserve of air traffic controllers, it is very hard to expect those in the towers to withstand the massive pressures involved with the job,” said Navio. He added that the Development Minister, Francisco Alvarez Cascos, needs to take careful note of the situation “on the one hand the government could have access to air traffic controllers when it needs, while on the other it has to make sure there are no more protests by a workforce which is the same size as it was 15 years ago.” Last weekend's overtime ban caused problems across Spain with the worst delays, some as long as three hours, in Palma and Malaga and the industry as a whole felt that further protests were the last thing Spanish tourism needed this summer.

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