The Cry Baby is on sabbatical ....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Best job in Europe: Spanish air traffic controller – earn $500,000+ a year

Artistic picture of Air Traffic ControlImage via Wikipedia
Want to know what one of the best jobs in Europe is? Air traffic controller in Spain. Granted, it's a high stress job that many of us would not want to do, but the remuneration is staggeringly good. The average pay is $500,000 a year. Ten controllers were paid between $1.1 and $1.3 million last year, while another 226 were paid between $630,000 and $770,000, largely because of lucrative overtime payments. The problem is, the virtually bankrupt Spanish government can no longer afford the astronomical payouts and are trying to cut their pay to just below  to just below $300,000, which is still 10 times Spain’s average salary. The air traffic controllers reaction was to stage wildcat strikes stranding thousands of passengers. The Spanish government had to put the military in charge of air traffic control to get planes flying again. 

Aside from the effects of the economic collapse, the Spanish have another reason to try and reign in the air traffic controllers. Even though borders were relaxed with the coming of the European Union, they remained intact for air traffic. Europe currently has 39 national agencies as well as Eurocontrol. The U.S. has one agency – the FAA. European air-traffic agencies' operating costs per flight are 75% above the FAA's, largely due to their high labour costs.

Europe is now trying to implement a "Single Sky" solution, that would unify air traffic control under one agency. Like most financial and labour related issues in Europe, they face and incredibly tough battle, that must be fought fiefdom by fiefdom, each of which is very deeply entrenched. The Single Sky kickoff is slated for next January. The Spanish controllers, working under the supervision of their military, did make some concessions, but there is still a lot of air miles to go to achieve any meaningful solution


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