SPANISH AIRLINE Iberia is holding last-ditch talks today with unions in a bid to halt a series of strikes by ground staff that are due to start tomorrow, January 5, and run until January 8. 

The cancellations will affect 45,641 passengers, according to the airline, with 270 cancelled flights at Iberia, 64 at Iberia Express, and 110 at Air Nostrum.

A meeting between the former Spanish flag carrier and the CCOO, UGT and USO unions finished without an agreement, meaning that the stoppages are still scheduled to go ahead. 

A320 Iberia Express Ec Jsk 03
The Iberia ground staff strikes are due to start on January 5. Credit: Wikimedia

The conflict began back in September when Iberia lost its licences to provide ground handling services in eight Spanish airports, including Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante and Gran Canaria. 

Under the terms of their collective agreements, these Iberia ground staff will have to be transferred to the companies who successfully won the licences. 

These workers fear, however, that they will lose their current salaries and other working conditions and are calling instead for Iberia to resort to ‘autohandling’ – i.e. using an internal company to offer these services. 

After the meeting on Wednesday, Iberia expressed its disappointment over the lack of a deal and lamented the ‘huge damage’ that calling the strikes has already done to passengers who were due to travel over the Kings Day weekend. 

The airline also argued that the strike was unjustified, on the basis that salary conditions and social benefits are guaranteed ‘for life’ under the collective agreement for the sector. 

CCOO and UGT, meanwhile, claimed that Iberia ‘deep down does not want to complete’ the negotiations, according to a report from agency Europa Press. 

What can I do if my flight is cancelled? 

According to a message on the Iberia website, the airline has ‘relaxed’ its conditions for journey changes and refunds for anyone affected by the strike action. 

The airline states that it will send passengers updates about their trips via its Iberia conecta service, and that anyone who has booked a flight for the affected dates can request either a date change or a refund. 

Customers whose flights are not directly affected by the strike can also change the date of their trip or request a voucher for future travel, the airline adds. 

Iberia also recommends that passengers arrive earlier than usual at airports due to the possible delays that will be caused by the stoppages. 

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