Spanish Flights: Britons Still Stranded By Backlog From Strikes At Airports

Thousands of UK passengers were still awaiting flights to or from Spanish airports today as airlines and holiday companies tried to clear the backlog caused by an air traffic controllers' strike.

Travellers were warned to expect further delays caused by the unofficial walkout, which has affected flights since Friday and disrupted the plans of up to 20,000 Britons.

Most strikers returned to work after the Spanish government issued emergency powers that threatened them with imprisonment.

But the Foreign Office in London ""strongly advised"" people intending to travel soon to contact their airline or travel operator before going to airports. It could take two days for all services to return to normal, said the Madrid government.

Stranded passengers were offered hotel accommodation or provided with food and drink at airports.

Tim Jeans, managing director of Monarch Airlines, told the BBC the disruption had cost the company hundreds of thousands of pounds and that about 5,000 passengers had been affected. ""Fortunately we managed to operate seven flights last evening so we've managed to get over 1,000 people back. It's back to a normal day, so I'm optimistic that by close of play tomorrow we'll have everybody back where they should be: pretty much at the destinations they wanted to go also.""

EasyJet was providing 14 ""rescue flights"", and Ryanair put on three extra flights, between the Canary Islands and Luton and Stansted airports, in an attempt to speed up the travel of some passengers after having to cancel hundreds of flights across Europe on the previous two days.

British Airways is advising all its passengers that services could be further disrupted by bad weather across Europe and suggested they should check their flight status before going to the airport. "