Strike forces Spain's Iberia to cancel flights

2013-03-04 15:04

Madrid - Workers at Spanish airline Iberia launched a second round of strikes against mass job cuts on Monday, forcing the cancellation of some 250 flights, the company said.

Iberia ground and flight staff are furious at plans to cut 3 800 jobs after it merged with British Airways to form the IAG group.

Iberia cancelled 82 flights on Monday, or 37 percent of the total number of flights that it had been scheduled to operate, because of the strike, an Iberia spokesperson said.

Three other carriers with whom Iberia shares services -- Iberia Express, Air Nostrum and Vueling -- cancelled another 165 flights on Monday because of the job action, he added.

"All affected passengers have been assigned to other flights or have had their tickets reimbursed," the spokesperson told AFP.

Iberia staff carried out the first of three five-day strikes February 18-22 and plan another from March 18 to 22. A minimum service operates during the strike under Spanish law.

Iberia and the three other carriers have cancelled a total of around 1 370 flights from March 4-8 because of the strike, mainly to destinations in Spain and Europe.

Iberia workers planned protests at Madrid-Barajas airport and around Spain for Monday.

IAG announced an annual net loss of 943 million euros ($1.2 billion about R10.2 billion at R9.08/$) in 2012, citing financial strains at Iberia and a soaring fuel bill.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said after the results that Iberia "must adapt to survive".

"Despite three months of negotiations between Iberia and its trade unions, no agreement was reached on an initial restructuring plan," he said.

"Therefore, we have announced that Iberia will proceed with a 15-percent cut in capacity and has started the formal collective redundancy process which will affect 3 807 jobs."

Iberia workers could call an open-ended strike if the company insists on going ahead with the job cuts, said Manuel Atienzam, an official from the airline workers' section of the labour union UGT.

Iberia executives say the airline accumulated 850 million euros in losses between 2008 and September 2012.


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