SPANISH air traffic controllers earn ten times more than the prime minister it has controversially emerged.
The wage packets of controllers – some reaching 800,000 euros – have come under intense scrutiny after a government probe revealed the striking sums.
With Spain’s airports racking up huge losses the soaring salaries have been widely criticised.
“Scandalous, Half earn more than double the salary of a government minister.”
It comes just weeks after passengers were forced to endure long delays after two runways were closed at Madrid’s Barajas Airport – due to a shortage of controllers.
An editorial in national newspaper El Mundo read: “Scandalous, Half earn more than double the salary of a government minister.”
The average controller salary is 200,000 euros, but this can easily be doubled or tripled depending on overtime.
In contrast, British air traffic controllers are paid 66,000 euros on average but this can rise to around 100,000 euros.
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero earns 91,982 euros while the national average wage is 18,087 euros.
Controversially, AENA – the body which manages Spain’s airports – recorded losses of 300 million euros last year.
“I have taken the decision to take the bull by the horns and end the privileges of these controllers,” explained José Blanco, the Development Minister.
Blanco now intends to reduce air traffic control costs by 12.6 million euros this year.
Spain is now considering replacing air traffic controllers with a computer system in at least 12 small airports, which handle fewer than 50 flights a day.
The controllers must have a degree, speak good English and pass a medical test every two years.
After they are 40, they must undergo the test every year.