Photo: By Rob Finlayson

Iberia (IB) pilots represented by the SEPLA union will meet on Wednesday Nov. 30 to decide on possible strike action in December to protest the company's plans to launch Iberia Express.

Some cabin crew unions also appear still opposed to IB’s new medium and short-haul carrier and could join the pilots in the strike. “Our pilots support the strike, while among the crew some unions are in favor and others against,” a SEPLA spokesman told Reuters.

An IB spokesperson told ATW that preparations for the launch of Iberia Express are proceeding and that the carrier will start flying, as planned, with a fleet of four aircraft during the next summer schedule. “We are in the process of hiring a management team and flight crew will be hired at market rates,” she said.

Iberia Express is a 100% IB subsidiary of Iberia but will be managed independently. It aims to have markedly lower operating cost than IB’s current, loss-making medium and short-haul operations.  (ATW Daily News, Oct. 7, 2011).

The IB spokesperson rejected SEPLA’s claims that Iberia Express contravenes the Iberia-British Airways merger agreement between the pilots and management, stressing thatthe creation of Iberia Express will not change the terms and conditions of existing IB employees.

IB pilots have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement since 2009.  IB’s cabin crew and ground staff, which include corporate, IT, commercial and ground handling staff have an agreement on pay and productivity through end 2012.