Iberia begins talks with pilots over restructuring

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Iberia has begun talks with pilots at the airline after they agreed to enter negotiations with management over the Oneworld carrier's restructuring plans.

In November the Spanish carrier announced plans to cut around 4,500 jobs as part of a major restructuring aimed at returning it to profit, but warned deeper cuts would be needed if it could not reach a deal with unions on the recovery plan by the end of January.

After averting threatened strike action, Iberia reached agreement with unions representing ground staff and cabin crew before Christmas to enter talks on its transformation plan. Unions and the company agreed to negotiate terms for a five-year period, while the company is hopeful of filling many of the proposed 4,500 job cuts through early retirements.

Pilots unions SEPLA initially refused to enter negotiations, but agreed to begin talks at the turn of the year. A spokesman for the carrier says talks have taken place with pilots over the last two days, but that it remains early stages.

The airline has insisted it will stick to its end of January deadline in time for the restructuring to be implemented in time for the summer season.

Under the restructuring Iberia plans to cut 4,500 jobs, 25 aircraft and 15% of capacity as part of efforts to deliver a €600 million improvement in its operating profitability by 2015.