BUSINESS

Iberia pilots reject job cuts and call for end to BA merger

Union chairman describes transformation plan as an “outrage”

Iberia’s pilots union Sepla on Tuesday rejected the restructuring plan presented by the airline and called on the company to unwind its merger with British Airways.

IAG, the holding company for the tie-up between BA and Iberia, last week unveiled a plan that calls for layoffs of 4,500, about 23 percent of the Spanish airline’s workforce, and potential salary cuts for pilots on national and European flights to be in line with those of its low-cost affiliate Vueling, which could mean cuts of up to 47 percent.

Loss-making Iberia wants an agreement on the layoffs by the end of January and has threatened even more drastic cuts in the absence of an accord. Iberia booked a loss of 262 million euros in the first nine months of the year, compared with a profit for BA of 285 million.

After a meeting of 1,000 pilots on Tuesday, Sepla’s chairman, Justo Peral, described the transformation plan as an “outrage.”

Peral described the merger with BA as a “trick” to dismantle the Spanish carrier and acquire its assets on the cheap.

“We have analyzed the merger agreements in detail [...] and we have discovered that there are clauses, which are absolutely damaging for Spain, for Spanish infrastructure such as Barajas airport and for Iberia’s workers,” Peral told reporters. “The plan that they have presented cannot be negotiated; all the unions have rejected it.”

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