OVER 200 AENA Spanish airport authority employees, including fire fighters, staged a mass protest against plans by the government to sell off 49 percent of the country's airports in Palma yesterday.

The part privatisation of AENA airports was approved on Friday but the unions have reacted by calling for national strike action over the Easter holidays and yesterday warned that the industrial action may stretch into the summer season.

Union leaders are threatening to unleash a strike that could close down Spain's hubs during the busy holiday season.

The General Workers union and the Workers Commission union said negotiations with the government over its plans to partly privatize the civil aviation agency AENA have broken down. GWU Union representative Raul Gomez said yesterday that “the strike would affect all airports” in the country.

Spain's Socialist government halted an air traffic control strike in December by imposing an emergency decree that threatened employees with prison and placed control towers under military supervision. And the domestic and international tourist industry wants the government to do the same if the strikes go ahead.