To fly or not to fly? That is the question…


‘MILLIONS of air passengers face misery in Spain over Easter and Summer strike action!’ This was just one of the many recent panic headlines warning of potential travel chaos, after Spanish airport workers threatened a series of strikes over 22 days fearing wage and benefit cuts from part privatisation of state-owned AENA, which runs Spain‘s biggest airports.

Had the issue not been resolved in the meantime, action could have started on April 20, disrupting Easter weekend holiday flights.


And this after last year’s ash cloud, snowbound European airports at Christmas and wildcat strikes by Spanish air traffic controllers over a busy long holiday weekend in December which affected thousands of international passengers and led to the Spanish government to declare a state of emergency and threaten strikers with imprisonment.

Now, quite apart from the impact this would have had on Spain’s already hard-pressed economy (average national unemployment around 20% or 30% in Andalucia) and the fact that this – together with BA’s own threatened strikes – would ruin many people’s holiday plans, there are other issues within the aviation industry of equal concern but which, ironically, get overlooked in the desperation just to get aboard that holiday aircraft.

According to Boeing, about 15 per cent major aircraft accidents involve maintenance error (transportation by air is three times more dangerous than by car and 30 times than by bus). Which makes me wonder about the other 85 per cent: how much is pilot error?

And leads me on to fake pilot licences, a practice mainly occurring thus far, fortunately, in South Asia.

The licence of a woman pilot of no-frills Indian airline IndiGo was recently cancelled after she almost crashed her passenger jet in Goa last month and investigators found she had faked papers to get her permit to fly.

Delhi police are examining two further cases of suspected forgery of pilots’ licences, including another pilot at IndiGo, one of India’s biggest domestic airlines whose website declares it employs “only the best personnel from around the world”.

An emergency review of licences held by all 4,084 of India’s commercial pilots has begun.

For many in Spain, the late Easter break will be their first since Christmas.

So it would have had an added impact if travel plans had been interrupted. For most North Europeans, however, all they want is their holiday jet to take off to Spain or wherever – its airworthiness or aircrew competence frankly a secondary consideration in these strike-/ weather-ravaged times.

Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code ( available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca


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