Government officials in Spain are calling Spanish air traffic controllers’ salaries ‘millionaire salaries’ as they announced plans to cut cost in that sector. Usually, air traffic controllers, salaries and millionaire are not bundled together in the same sentence.
Government officials in Spain are calling Spanish air traffic controllers’ salaries ‘millionaire salaries’ as they announced plans to cut the cost of its loss-making state-operated Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea (AENA). Usually, air traffic controllers, salaries and millionaire are not bundled together in the same sentence so I had to investigate.
It was revealed that some Spanish air traffic controllers were earning as much as 10 times more than the Prime Minister and 50 times the average Spanish worker salary. Spain’s Prime Minister receives an annual salary of around 92,000 euros, while the average worker earns less than 18,000 euros per year. Here’s what an audit of the controllers’ salaries in 2009 revealed:
- 10 earned between 810,000 and 900,000 euros,
- 226 earned between 450,000 and 540,000 euros,
- 701 earned between 270,000 and 360,000 euros, and
- the average basic salary is 200,000 euros but most double or triple this amount by working overtime.
These Spanish controllers are perhaps the poster boys and girls of this profession. Air traffic controllers everywhere dream of this sort of wages. Personally, I am happy to know that somebody somewhere has acknowledged the worth of air traffic controllers and was prepared to reward them accordingly.
Moving on, it should be noted here that air traffic controlling is perhaps the most stressful job on Earth, earning the title for the snap decisions that are constantly being made to ensure safety in the busy skies above us. We do not have the luxury of second guessing our decisions, and instructions given to pilots must be correct 100 percent of the times. Anything short of this could result in deadly consequences.
So what do the Spanish controllers give in return for their wages? Controllers work 12-hour days made up of two four-hour shifts and two, two-hour rest periods. According to the Spanish government, most do an average of 1,200 hours with 400 hours overtime a year. They must have a degree, speak good English and pass a medical examination. Pretty routine stuff, however, I think the daily hours are way too long, and can give way to fatigue.
By comparison, British air traffic controllers are paid £60,000 to £90,000, U.S. controllers make $90 to $160,000, and the French controllers take home €110,000. That said, I am too ashamed to say what controllers in this part of the world take home.
What salary would be enough to keep you quiet in your profession? Controllers and non-controllers can weigh in here.