Iberia in talks with union over ERTE for around 5,000 workers 

by Lorraine Williamson
Iberia airlines - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A319_iberia_airlines.jpg

MADRID – Spanish airline Iberia has notified unions of its intention to negotiate a temporary social plan (ERTE) for between 4,000 and 5,000 workers. According to Iberia, it is currently at a capacity level 30%-35% lower than in 2019 due to restrictions on tourism to the US and Latin America.  

The company assumes that there will be a chance that the negotiations between the Spanish government and the social partners will not result in an extension of the ERTEs – the temporary redundancy schemes – for the airline sector. 

In conversation with the trade union 

‘The uncertainty surrounding this extension and its terms, as well as the delay in the recovery of air traffic, have led Iberia to initiate negotiations with the unions on the introduction of an ERTE for organisational and productive purposes,’ the company said on Monday. On the same day, Iberia’s share price rose about 9.5% after it was announced that the United States will ease travel restrictions on passengers from the European Union and the United Kingdom. 

The airline, which employs some 15,200 people, stressed that the ERTE is a necessary tool to both keep its resources in line with real capacity and protect jobs. Capacity this year is still 30% to 35% lower than in 2019, the year before the pandemic. This is mainly due to restrictions on tourism to and from the United States, Latin America, Japan and China. 

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ERTE for organisational reasons and not as a result of force majeure 

Due to the slow recovery of both long-haul and connecting flights and business travel and the no-fly zones, restrictions, and quarantines in place in many countries Iberia flies to, Iberia considers the extension of ERTEs due to force majeure essential. ‘So that the negotiations between the government and the social partners include the airline sector, in order to safeguard the employment of workers in this sector,’ the company explains. 

Iberia has already informed the trade unions of its intention to negotiate force majeure ERTEs. Defending that these ERTEs were a fundamental tool for securing employment during the worst of the airline crisis. And these ERTEs, which currently apply to the entire tourism sector in Spain, are now also being used by Iberia. 

Interest in EasyJet 

The airline continues to explore acquisition opportunities. In an interview with The Sunday Times, the chairman of parent company IAG, Luis Gallego, admitted that he has the purchase of low-cost airline EasyJet ‘on his radar’. Although this does not mean that IAG will be making a bid any time soon. Gallego pointed out that the acquisition of low-cost airline Norwegian Air had been explored in the past. But had not resulted in a purchase. Currently, the IAG group is in the process of purchasing Air Europa. However, this is pending, among other things, a green light from Brussels. 

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