The Spanish airline Iberia will cancel more than 100 flights Sunday on the first day of a two-day pilots’ strike called by the Sepla union to protest the founding of a low-cost subsidiary.
The affiliate company is Iberia Express, which from March 2012 will offer short and medium-range flights.
Sepla-Iberia holds that the founding of that company is illegal, since it contradicts Article 10 of the pilots’ collective-bargaining agreement, which says that the company’s activity cannot be divided up and which establishes that operations at Madrid-Barajas Airport must be carried out by personnel (technical crew) of the airline.
According to Sepla, the founding of Iberia Express will mean the elimination of 5,000 jobs, since the company’s management plans to “move 40 planes to the subsidiary.”
The union criticized Iberia for not accepting the proposal to meet “every day, including today Saturday and tomorrow Sunday” to reach an agreement and end the strike, and criticized the company’s rejection of a plan proposed by the union to save on costs and wages if the new airline is structured as part of the current company.
Meanwhile Iberia said there is no reason for the pilots’ strike, since, according to its president, Antonio Vazquez, no one is going to be laid off nor will wages be reduced, and the new subsidiary will create 500 new jobs.
The airline also accused the pilots of wanting to run the company and recommended that they “go to the labor tribunals and file suit” if they believe that the new airline is illegal.
Iberia has managed to put 80 percent of the passengers affected by Sunday’s cancellations of 114 routes on other flights of the company or on 27 other airlines, according to its latest online bulletin.
The airline also has an agreement with the Renfe railroad company and Alsa buses to transport stranded passengers by land, and has reserved more than 9,000 rooms in hotels around the airport.
Both Iberia and authorities at the Madrid airport, where the company is based and operates some 700 flights daily, believe that the worst problems Sunday will be suffered by passengers arriving in transit without any idea that a strike has been called.