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Iberia smashes down tourists’ plans and its own reputation

08:07, 20 января 2012

Pilots of Spanish national air carrier Iberia plan to go on termless strike. Starting from the upcoming February the pilots intend to strike twice a week, every Monday and Friday. Tour operators believe that the trade union’s attempt to solve its problems at passengers’ expense seriously lunge the airline’s reputation.


The pilots want to stop the management from establishing a low-cost affiliate Iberia Express. According to Spanish newspaper Publio, Iberia’s ground personnel might join the striking air crews. It should be noted that the air carrier’s pilots have already been on strike on December 29, 2011 and January 9 and 11 this year. The strike caused cancellation of 422 flights, including Moscow-bound, thousands of passengers’ plans were affected. In addition to that, three 24-hour strikes are scheduled for January 25, 27 and 30.


“A group of our tourists, heading for their Antarctic cruise, was scheduled to travel from Moscow to Madrid by Iberia flight and then to catch a connecting flight to Buenos Aires and further to Ushuaia. Iberia warned us about the strike, but travel itineraries, especially this complex, are usually being formed long before the departure, it’s quite hard to change everything last minute” – says Deputy Marketing and Sales Director of Poseidon Expeditions Company Mr. Alexander Ruvinsky. As a result after a lot of efforts the tour operator managed to book a flight of another airline, hence another departure time and the tourists arrived in Buenos Aires almost a day earlier. The tour operator had to pay for an additional night at a hotel for the group.


“The air carrier’s management’s fruitless efforts to reach an agreement with the trade unions not only give its partners a headache but also harm Iberia itself, as any strike has a serious impact on the reputation” – says Mr. Ruvinsky. He added that Iberia’s airfares from Moscow to Madrid are on average 30% cheaper compared to other airlines. But if the Spanish keep on playing these tricks, the tour operators might simply abandon Iberia and switch to other carriers.

Head of air travel department of the Caribbean Club Company Ms. Alisa Vakhitova explained that in case a flight was cancelled, an airline usually refund the money to a travel company, who then buys another tickets for their clients. “If a notification comes 24 hours prior to departure, we can try to resolve the issue. But the problem is that available seats on scheduled flights are not always there, hence lengthy stopovers. In this situation we can only count on tourists’ consideration and understanding” – Ms. Vakhitova pointed out to RATA-news.

The new carrier Iberia Express is supposed operate long- and middle-distance flights starting from this spring. It will allow Iberia to save up to €100 million a year and to compete head-to-head with other European airlines. The trade union of Iberia pilots claims that explanations of this kind are unfaithful and the establishment of the new affiliate will only serve to reducing their paychecks.

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