Strike action grounds Iberia flights

Spain-based Iberia airlines is suffering the latest round of on-going strike action, forcing flights to be delayed and cancelled.

Over 1,000 flights could be grounded as Iberia workers take on the company’s owner, IAG, in a dispute over job cuts. The five days of strike action has been timed to coincide with the UK school half-term holidays, usually a major money-spinner for the Spanish economy and airlines alike.

The walkout, which started at midnight, is the first of three five-day strikes that the Spanish trades unions have scheduled for February and March, in opposition to the company’s plans to cut 3,807 jobs and to cut costs further by reducing salaries. The company has cancelled 415 of its own flights over the next 5 days, but other airlines could also suffer the knock-on effect of strikes by handling staff at Spanish airports, with the likelihood of 1,200 more flights being grounded.

According to Iberia, 70,000 passengers will be affected by this current strike, although long-haul services will be less affected than domestic flights, with 90 percent of the long distance services expected to be operational, compared to just 50 percent of flights within Spain.

On the first and last days of each strike, further disruption is expected from union-organised demonstrations that will take place between 11am and 2pm, and a mass protest has been planned for central Madrid on Wednesday.

The other two strikes in this round of protests are planned for March 4 to 8, and March 18 to 22.

The Spanish unions also organised strikes in the run up to the busy 2012 Christmas period.