Pilots strike forces flight cancellations in Spain

AP News
Posted: Dec 18, 2011 7:03 AM
Pilots strike forces flight cancellations in Spain

Spanish airline Iberia canceled a third of its flights Sunday because of a strike by pilots fearing job losses when company planes are diverted for use by Iberia's planned new budget carrier.

Iberia said it scrapped 91 flights, mostly domestic routes, but that no major disruptions were reported at its bustling Madrid hub or other airports because it managed to find alternative seats on other Iberia flights or with other carriers for about 80 percent of the travelers.

Another one-day strike is planned for Dec. 29.

Iberia, Lineas Aereas de Espana, S.A., plans to divert jetliners from money-losing domestic and medium-haul European routes for Iberia Express, which it hopes to launch early next year using lower-earning, newly hired pilots and flight attendants. The company says its plans are for this carrier to have 40 planes in 2015.

Pilots union SEPLA says it ultimately fears job losses among existing staff with the creation of the unit, designed to compete with budget airlines.

Iberia, Spain's flagship carrier, insists that no job cuts are planned among its current 1,600 pilots.