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Barcelona airport - Terminal 2
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Photo by Lee Woolcock
FC Barcelona remains in the contest to play in this year's Champions League final at Wembley, following their victory over Arsenal last night at the Camp Nou (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Four games stand between the team and the London final, but it's unlikely that any of them will be as intense as the one played yesterday evening. More than 95,000 people were in the stands and treated to a match that set the pulses racing from beginning to end. And even though Barça dominated the match, they came close to losing right towards the close of the match with a last-minute effort from Arsenal which would have seen them triumph on the away goals rule. The first half saw a series of missed opportunities for the home team, with David Villa particularly weak, causing the blaugranes players and fans alike to suffer more than necessary. However, Messi's goal on the cusp of half time and Xavi's goal in the second half (after Arsenal had equalised thanks to an own goal by Sergio Busquets) kept the team in the game and they kept up the pressure on the visitors, that ultimately saw them win 3-1, giving an aggregate scoreline of 4-3.
Almost 10,000 employees of the airport management company Aena are due to take 22 days of strike action this year, including some days that coincide with public holidays (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The strikes, called in protest at the planned partial privatisation of Aena, will start at Easter and run at least until the end of August, threatening the flight plans of thousands of Spaniards and foreign travellers. The action was confirmed yesterday by the main trade unions and means that reservations already made for the days that the workers will be on strike are now at threat. Discussions will take place over the coming weeks between the unions and the Spanish public works ministry in an attempt to avert the strikes, which could affect up to 71 percent of Aena staff, that's to say 9,600 of the 13,500 people who work for the company, which runs airports across Spain. Air traffic controllers won't be taking part in the strikes and some temporary workers will have completed their contracts by the time the strikes occur, which explains why not all those working for Aena will be participating. Those who will be striking include administrators, airport firefighters and maintenance workers. The proposed stoppage dates include 20th-21st and 24th-25th and 30th April; 13th, 20th and 23rd June; 1st, 15th and 31st of both July and August [source: El Periodico].
Solidaritat Catalana per la Independencia (SI), the political party co-founded by ex-Barça president Joan Laporta that won four seats in the Catalan parliament in last year's Generalitat elections, has said that it won't expel Laporta from the group despite his decision to team up with left-wing independence party Esquerra Republicana (ERC) for the forthcoming municipal elections (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The party's leaders want to move on from the affair and focus on the law for the declaration of Catalan independence, which is due to be debated in the Catalan parliament following an initiative by SI. However, it seems likely that it won't be so easy for the party to brush the matter under the carpet. Party members said yesterday that it was fine for Laporta to remain as part of the SI parliamentary subgroup even if he works with ERC on the campaign for the May council elections, and that they are waiting to see what position he will adopt. "The seat [in parliament] is personal and it's him who has to decide," said Uriel Bertran, the secretary general of SI, who now regards the controversy as over. He said that SI won't stoke the fire of the matter because they don't want relations with Laporta to deteriorate any further, and wished him luck with his project with ERC.