Iberia (Madrid) is dropping all long-haul service to Havana, Montevideo, San Juan and Santo Domingo. The last flights will be operated on March 31, 2013. The airline is also dropping flights to Athens, Istanbul and Cairo, which will be suspended in mid-January 2013. The company has issued the following statement:
Iberia has announced details of its new commercial and routes policies under the Transformation Plan it announced recently. The plan is intended to restore profitability to the airline, which racked up operating losses of 262 million euros in the first nine months of 2012, and thus to ensure its future viability.
The plan calls for optimizing the Spanish airline’s route network in 2013, strengthening the most strategic and profitable routes, and dropping loss makers. Subsequently, it expects to resume growth if economic and market conditions allow, increasing revenues while cutting sales costs, to build a solid platform for future growth.
Iberia plans to improve connections to its busiest long-haul flights, achieve a better balance between business and holiday traffic, and augment its future growth possibilities. Within the Transformation Plan, it will boost services to some long haul destinations such as Brazil, Mexico, Miami, Central America and Chile and Ecuador. It will also increase capacity to some other short and medium-haul destinations, including London, Casablanca, Algiers, Dakar, Nouakchott, and Malabo.
The airline will drop some routes now dominated by holiday traffic, where it competes on unfavourable terms with other airlines. These include flights to Athens, Istanbul and Cairo, which will be suspended in mid-January. From 1st April it will also suspend flights to Santo Domingo and Havana. San Juan de Puerto Rico will be offered via Miami and Montevideo via other Iberia destinations in the region.
Iberia pledges to be flexible with customers holding reservations or tickets for flights on the routes to be dropped. It will offer full refunds or alternative travel on other carriers – on Vueling to Athens, Egyptair to Cairo, Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, and Air Europa to Santo Domingo and Havana.
Following these changes, Iberia group airlines will fly to more than 90 cities in some 40 countries, some of them new territories for Iberia, such as Ghana, Mauritania, Angola, and the city of Oran in Algeria and Los Angeles in California.
To generate new revenues and reduce costs, Iberia will offer all-new Economy and Business class sections on its long-haul flights. The new cabin interiors, seats, and entertainment options will be available on the current fleet of Airbus A340-600s, and the A330s to be delivered starting early next year. The company is also working to improve ground services, while seeking additional sources of revenue, such as the new VIP lounges in Miami and Buenos Aires.
In addition, SIMA is calling for a meeting with Iberia and its unions next week in an attempt to reach labor peace and to avoid planned strikes against the carrier this month. The company issued this statement:
On December 7 Iberia management met with the strike committee and with the contract negotiation committees of the unions representing its ground staff and cabin crews in a bid to advance with negotiations and to avert the series of day-long strikes called for the week before Christmas. Since no agreement was reached, new meetings have been scheduled for next week. The SEPLA pilots union refused to meet with the company.
Spain’s SIMA labor conflict arbitration body has summoned Iberia and the striking unions to a meeting on Monday (December 10) to explore the possibility of mediation.
Iberia regards the strikes as both a disproportionate and unjustified response to its new Transformation Plan, since the airline has already agreed to negotiate the labor aspects of the restructuring plan, aimed at restoring profitability and ensuring the future viability of the 85-year-old Spanish airline.
Unions have called six strike days, five of them consecutive, for one of the busiest weeks of the year, which will worsen the company’s current loss-making situation and seriously inconvenience thousands of customers, while bringing no possible benefit to employees.
The company’s position is that a strike to protest the restructuring plan is out of order since it has already agreed to negotiate the labour aspects of its plan that was unveiled in November. It says the strike will seriously worsen the company’s situation in a year when operating losses had already reached 262 million euros by end of September.
Since the strikes are scheduled for December 14 and December 17-21.
Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Airbus A340-642 EC-IZY (msn 604) pushes back from the gate at Miami bound for the Madrid hub.