Monday, February 18, 2013

Spain: Iberia Strike Cancels Flights, Cost of Strike Estimated at 50 Million Euros

According to Reuters, Iberia's strike of flight attendants and baggage handlers during February and March could easily cost the airline 50 million euros at a time when the country hardly need more bad economic news.

Dozens of Iberia flights were canceled today (February 18) as workers at the carrier began a five-day strike over job cuts that could approach 3,807 employees.

There was little sign of chaos on Monday morning in Barajas airport in Madrid, Iberia's hub, as the airline had already rescheduled most passengers on other flights or returned them their money.

In anticipation of the strike, Iberia had already canceled 415 flights between Monday and Friday, and as many as 1,200 flights operated by various airlines will be disrupted because of the lack of handling services at Spanish airports.

Domestic flights were the worst affected, with almost half grounded between Monday and Friday, Iberia said, while 10% of its lucrative, long-haul flights were canceled.

The February 18-22 strike, the first of three scheduled week-long stoppages, coincides with school holidays in Britain, Spain's biggest source of tourists.

COMMENT: At a time when unemployment in Spain has reached a staggering 26%, Iberia, which merged with profitable British Airways in 2011 to form the International Airlines Group, reported a loss of 262 million euros ($349.78 million) in the first nine months of 2012.

Some 70,000 passengers will be affected during the Monday to Friday strike this week. About 86% have been given different flights, including those operated by other airlines, while 14% had asked for refunds.

Since the unions notified the strike two weeks ago and the transport ministry obliged them to offer a skeleton service under Spanish strike law, virtually no passengers were stranded at Spanish airports.