Spanish airline Iberia cancelled hundreds of flights scheduled on Monday and Wednesday because of fresh strikes by pilots protesting its launch of a new low-cost carrier, a spokeswoman said.
The airline scrapped 109 flights on Monday, or just over a third of the total scheduled, and a further 104 are due to be cancelled when the strike is repeated on Wednesday, she said.
Most of the flights affected are on short and medium-haul routes.
"All the people affected have been contacted and offered alternatives," the spokeswoman said, adding that switching passengers to other flights was tricky this week with lots of travellers returning from holiday.
Two strikes last month caused similar numbers of flights to be cancelled on December 18 and 29.
Iberia, working to cut expenses after merging with British Airways last year to create International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, plans to launch its low-cost subsidiary Iberia Express by April 2012.
"The company considers the creation of Iberia Express is necessary because there are many routes on which we are currently losing money," the spokeswoman said on Monday.
The new budget carrier will handle short- and medium-haul flights from Madrid. Those flights have been facing heavy competition from other low-cost carriers and Spain's high-speed trains.
The pilots' union SEPLA called the strikes, fearing the salaries offered by the new airline will be too low.
Iberia Express will start with a fleet of four Airbus 320 jets which it hopes to expand to 13 aircraft and 500 staff by the end of 2012.
© 2012 AFP
Date: Jan 9, 2012