Spanish airline Iberia told ground crews on Friday they can keep their jobs until 2015 in an important agreement to avoid weekly strikes that threatened to handicap the carrier’s operations.
Iberia’s 16,000 ground staff had threatened to hold indefinite strikes every Monday and Friday from next month to protest the airline’s plans to create a low-cost carrier.
“Iberia and ground crew unions have signed an agreement that will extend de facto employment guarantees until 2015. In exchange, the employees will not strike,” a union spokesman said.
The airline plans to launch no-frills Iberia Express in March or April in a strategy it says is its only key to survival against aggressive low-cost competition that has cut its market share.
The plan has faced fierce opposition from employees, who fear for their jobs.
In a statement, Iberia said it hoped to reach similar agreements with the rest of its unions, and urged pilots – who have already scheduled strikes for January 25, 27 and 30 – to “reconsider their stance.”
The airline, which is operated by the International Airlines Group, is due to meet cabin crew on Monday.