Iberia cancels 168 flights, no reimbursement

Despite reaching a deal the previous day to end a pilots’ strike, Iberia cancelled 168 flights Thursday and announced it will offer passengers other alternatives but will not reimburse them for the expenses they have incurred, according to EFE news wire. The strike, which began Monday and was slated to last the entire week, was suspended Wednesday after the airline reached an agreement with the SEPLA pilots’ union.

SEPLA demanded that Iberia guarantee pilots their jobs and same rate of pay ahead of the launch later this year of a budget airline to be known as “Catair,” in which Iberia will have a 20 percent stake.

The agreement, which will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2010, requires Iberia to maintain the current staff of crew members until that date and stipulates that, when the carrier decides to cancel a particular route, it must inform pilots of any impact the move will have on their employment situation.

The airline has also announced that, in accordance with E.U. regulations, it will not pay compensation to passengers affected by the strike-induced cancellations.

Iberia said the company has offered passengers various alternatives including different flight dates and routes but does not plan to cover the cost of hotels, food and other expenses.

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The greatest number of cancellations have been for flights arriving or leaving Madrid’s Barajas Airport, the most important in Spain with some 1,300 flights scheduled daily.
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