MADRID – The Spanish government approved new austerity measures and a limited economic stimulus package to ease investor fears about its debt — and insisted again it was taking strong steps to right its ailing economy.

Markets responded positively to Friday’s actions after weeks of turmoil, but the country was thrown into chaos again after air traffic controllers unexpectedly staged a massive sickout just hours after top government officials endorsed a move to partially privatize key airports.

At least 200,000 travelers were stranded on the eve of a long holiday weekend. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ordered the military to take over air traffic control, but there was no immediate information about when flights would resume.

Zapatero himself canceled a trip to an Iberoamerican summit in Argentina so he could preside over the Cabinet meeting where plans were also approved to sell off a 30 percent stake in the government-owned national lottery, cutbacks to a key jobless benefit, tax cuts for small businesses and an increase in the tobacco tax.

The latest measures, first announced Wednesday by Zapatero, were welcomed by both markets and the European Union after weeks of speculation that Portugal and Spain could follow Greece and Ireland in needing a massive bailout.

Spanish and Portuguese stocks recovered Friday for the third consecutive day, reversing severe losses last week. Spain’s benchmark index closed 0.7 percent higher, while Portugal’s ended the day with a similar gain.