Spanish pilots' union SEPLA say it cannot rule out the possibility of future strike action by its Iberia members if a deal is not agreed with the airline over pay and job security.
The union says it is ready to sign up to a 14% wage cut and a 4.5% reduction in contributions to pension schemes under an agreement reached with Iberia through arbitration, but wants further guarantees from the airline that it will not replace Iberia pilots with Vueling and Iberia Express colleagues as part of restructuring efforts.
“Everything is possible,” says Francisco Hoyas, a member of SEPLA’s Iberia negotiating team. “If we have any future with Iberia, we want to be there, but if they say we have no future then, we have nothing else to lose [and] we have to fight.”
Hoyas voices concerns that while Iberia was cutting its crew, Vueling was hiring pilots, the legality of which he would question since both carriers are owned by IAG.
He argues that IAG must also ensure that any future growth at Madrid Barajas airport includes Iberia pilots, and that British Airways should be barred from operating long-haul flights from the Spanish capital.
“If IAG is going to expand in the future – say, Madrid gets more flights – we must be allowed to operate these flights. That is what we are asking for,” says Hoyas.
To stem losses, Iberia plans to cut 3,141 positions in total, including 258 pilots and 627 cabin crew.