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AIRLINE SECTOR

Minister hits turbulence over Iberia LatAm flights

Soria says it is "unacceptable” that Madrid travelers will have to reach Havana via London

Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister José Manuel Soria on Tuesday described as “unacceptable” the fact that in order to fly to Havana from Madrid travelers will have to go through London.

“It seems to me unacceptable that to go from Spain to Havana we have to go through London,” Soria said as he urged Iberia to retain its Latin America routes.

Iberia has decided to suspend direct flights to Havana and Santo Domingo from Spain as of April 1 of next year as part of a restructuring process that involves abandoning unprofitable flights. However, Iberia pointed out that there are in fact no direct flights between London and Santo Domingo or Havana and that other airlines fly directly to those two destinations from Spain.

Iberia’s parent IAG has also called for 4,500 job cuts — about 23 percent of the airline’s workforce — as part of plans to make the company profitable again.

Cabin crew and ground staff on Monday called off six days of stoppages just before the start of the Christmas holiday period. The strike had been called in protest against the restructuring plan.

Soria said he respected the decisions taken by IAG — the holding company for Iberia and British Airways — adding that he had met with IAG representatives to express the government’s deep concerns about the situation of the Spanish carrier within the consortium.

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