Spanish airline Iberia says some 1,300 flights will be canceled this week as workers begin a second round of strikes to protest the loss-making company's plans to lay off almost a fifth of its workforce.
The government has ordered a minimum amount of services should remain, meaning 85 percent of long-haul flights, 62 percent of medium-haul and 47 percent of domestic flights are guaranteed. Unions representing most Iberia workers, but not pilots, called strikes between Feb. 18-22, March 4-8 and March 18-22.
Workers at Iberia held protest at Madrid's Barajas airport at midday on Monday as part of a strike over job and pay cuts at the loss-making airline that will ground nearly 1,300 flights this week. Iberia is part of International Airlines Group, which also includes British Airways and which last week pledged to press ahead with plans to slash 3,800 jobs at the struggling Spanish airline, or 19 percent of the total, despite union opposition.
Iberia, Europe's biggest carrier to Latin America, is battling competition from low-cost airlines and high-speed trains as well as an economic crisis in Spain. Its declining revenue and high costs drove the IAG group to a 631 million euro operating loss for 2012.
Most passengers affected by the strike - the second of three five-day stoppages planned for February and March - had been re-scheduled and there were few signs of stranded travelers on Monday morning at Barajas airport. Of the 40,000 passengers whose flights this week were affected, Iberia said 38,000 had been booked onto other flights.
Copyright 2013 Plus Media Solutions Private LimitedAll Rights Reserved
The airline fears that 1,500 flights and 200,000 passengers could be affected over the seven days of the planned strike.
Lingering chaos from a wildcat strike by ground crew employees forced the cancellation of nearly 600 flights.