Spain's Iberia scraps flights during strike 


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The Independent Travel

Spanish airline Iberia cancelled more than a third of its flights today due to 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 118 domestic and international flights but found seats on other Iberia flights or with other carriers for all the 10,000 travelers affected by the one-day strike.

It was the second such holiday-season walkout by the pilots. The first was on 18 December.

Iberia, Lineas Aereas de Espana, SA, 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 threatened on Wednesday to stage more strikes over the creation of Iberia Express, fearing 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.