More flights grounded in Spain as 2 airlines cope with strikes

OVIEDO, Spain

At least 10 flights were canceled on Monday in Spain, as workers of two major airlines continued to strike over pay disputes.

Iberia Express said in a statement that 1,300 passengers are being affected by the cancellation of 10 flights on Monday and called on the USO union to call off the cabin crew strike immediately.

“Choose dialogue instead of social confrontation, which harms the workers of Iberia Express, their clients and the future of the company,” the statement argued.

The 10-day strike in Iberia Express, the low-cost arm of Spain’s flagship carrier, began on Sunday and is set to cancel at least 92 flights until Sept. 6.

The USO union behind the strike says the cabin crew’s wages have been frozen for seven years. The workers are demanding wage increases that keep up with inflation.

Monday is also the last day of this round of Easyjet pilot strikes, which has caused more than 87 flight cancellations this month.

Their union Sepla argues pilots are demanding a return to the labor conditions that they had before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, easyJet used the argument of potential job losses to demand a worsening of pilots’ labor conditions. Pilots accepted these conditions responsibly, not only to keep their jobs but to ensure the company’s survival,” according to Sepla.

The union on Monday said “the worst of the pandemic is over,” and pilots are flying a similar number of flights as they were in 2019.

This summer, the airline industry in Spain has dealt with several strikes that have spurred travel chaos, including that of Ryanair cabin crew.

In the first half of 2022, Spain saw a 20% increase in strike action as workers watched their purchasing power be eroded by inflation. The transportation industry saw a particular surge, with striking participants increasing by 89% over 2021.

This autumn is forecast to be “hot” for strikes as well, with the country’s two main unions threatening a significant escalation in labor action if wages do not rise to meet surging costs.

Neighboring Portugal is also recovering from a weekend marked by acute travel stress. A walkout of handling employees at the Lisbon and Oporto airports from Friday to Sunday caused at least 118 flight cancellations.

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