Spain’s airport workers will strike over Easter – a move likely to leave tens of thousands of holidaymakers facing chaos over one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Spanish unions representing airport workers have told the government that its members would stage two 48-hour walk-outs over the holiday.

They will be on the Wednesday and Thursday before Good Friday and Easter Saturday and Sunday. A 24-hour strike will be held a week later, on Saturday, April 30.

Further strikes are planned: five days in May, three in June, six in July and three in August.

Several Spanish labour unions, including Union General de Trabajadores (UGT), Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO) and Union Sindical Obrero (USO), have deliberately chosen those times to coincide with busy summer holiday travel periods.

The stoppages are in protest at Spain‘s Socialist government’s plans to partly privatise Aeropuertos Espanoles and Navigacion Aerea (AENA), the companies that control Spain’s civil airports, in order to help cut the national deficit.

However, from Madrid, Union’s were yesterday calling for “meaningful talks” that could lead to a settlement so the strikes could be called off.

Raul Gomez, the UGT spokesman in institutional relations with AENA, said that unless the government changes its position, the strike, which would affect all of the country’s airports, could be extended until the local and regional elections that will be held in Spain in late May.

“They have made it impossible to sit at the negotiating table, despite the efforts of the unions,” Gomez said.

Spain’s air traffic controllers called a strike on December 4 last year with no prior warning, leaving around 400,000 travellers stranded at Spanish airports and a backlog of passengers that took several days to clear.

The situation forced the government to declare a “State of Alarm,” which placed the country ‘s air traffic controllers under military jurisdiction until the middle of January in order to guarantee air traffic during the holiday season.