More than 1200 flights cancelled amid strike

2013-02-19 08:43

Madrid - Workers at Spain's biggest airline, Iberia, on Monday started a five-day strike, with more than 1,220 flights to be cancelled until Friday.

About 235 Iberia flights - as well as those of related carriers Vueling, Air Nostrum and Iberia Express - were cancelled on Monday.

Thousands of striking workers demonstrated at Madrid and Barcelona airports. Some of them used their cars to block access to Terminal 4 in Madrid, according to airport sources.

Hundreds of strikers later stormed Terminal 4, forcing the closure of counters of Iberia and its partner, British Airways.

Police dispersed the group and arrested five people, media reports quoted police sources as saying. One person was reported to have been injured in clashes with police.

The government said Iberia and related airlines were providing minimum services set out in the law. Those make flights to the Balearic and Canary islands compulsory. At least half of all international flights must also be allowed to operate.

Two other work stoppages, for five days each, will follow in March.

Cabin crew and ground employees are protesting a decision by Iberia's owner, International Airlines Group, to cut about 3,800 jobs - nearly 20 per cent of the total - following a merger with British Airways in 2011.

The plan also includes wage cuts and a reduction of Iberia's network capacity by 15 per cent.

Pilots were expected to join the strike from March 4 onwards.

The government says the strike will cost about 10m euros (R117m) daily. Tourism is one of the main sectors bolstering the country's battered economy.

Iberia says it has placed 60,000 of 70,000 affected passengers on alternative flights. The rest were to get their money back.

Some passengers at Madrid airport, however, complained that they had not been informed about the cancellation of their flights. The consumers' association Fuci accused Iberia of having left passengers "defenceless."

The airline says it made losses of 850 million euros between 2008 and September 2012, a situation which forced it to take "drastic measures."

Read more on:    travel international

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel


#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.