Iberia’s cabin crew are threatening strike action over plans to launch a new carrier this year that would pay crew lower wages. The new airline would employ some 350 staff and operate 14 aircraft, and is viewed as an attempt by the Spanish flag carrier to sidestep union resistance to cost cuts.
Javier Santos, spokesman for Comision de Trabajadores Asemblearios (CTA), the biggest cabin crew union, said: “We are completely against this move. They are just trying to pay cabin crew less.”
Other Spanish unions have accused the national flag carrier of copying British Airways in its attempt to cut costs.
A spokesman for Independiente de Tripulantes de Cabina de Pasajeros de Líneas Aéreas, a trade union, told The Times: “We fear that the creation of a company of low cost is nothing more than the cession of part of Iberia with the only objective to cut costs from cabin crew and pilots. We suspect they could be trying to do the same as British Airways did.”
Iberia is expected to seal its merger with BA this month. The deal would see both airlines operating as separate divisions within a UK-based holding company.
Iberia said the new airline would not be follow the low-cost model. A spokesman for the airline said: “This is not going to be a low-cost airline. It will, for example, offer passengers a business class for their flight.
“We will contract new staff, not transfer them from Iberia. For Iberia, like other large airlines like British Airways and Air France, costs are the problem and so reducing the salary base is logical.”
Qantas did something similar when it launched Jetstar as a lower-cost operation in 2003.