Iberia continues union talks as deadline looms

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Iberia is holding more talks with staff unions today as the clock ticks down on its deadline to reach agreement on cost-cutting proposals.

Fresh negotiations with unions representing the Oneworld carrier's ground staff and cabin crew began this morning, while the airline will begin talks with pilot's union SEPLA this afternoon.

In November the Spanish airline 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.

Initial strike threats by unions were lifted before Christmas, and in January pilots body SEPLA eventually followed Iberia's ground staff and cabin crew in agreeing terms for talks with management.

Iberia's board is to convene tomorrow to discuss what action will be taken if no deal is in place by that time. In turn unions have not ruled out industrial action if an agreement cannot be reached and IAG attempts a more stringent restructuring of the airline than that already proposed.

In addition to the loss of 4,500 jobs, IAG said in November that it plans to cut capacity at Iberia by 15% this summer, taking 25 aircraft out of the fleet.

While Iberia chief executive Rafael Sánchez-Lozano has said the cuts are necessary to halt losses at Iberia, he also argues a more competitive cost base will enable it grow in future, and the airline has chosen today to announce details its new long-haul economy and business class products. This will be based around the first of its new Airbus A330-300s next month, while it will begin overhauling the cabins of its A340-600s in May.