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Spanish Pilots Strike threatens further dispruption

Mon 5th Sep 2011

Spain's Air Europa pilots of Spanish airline are due to begin an indefinite strike on September 22, the pilots’ trade union SEPLA announced in a statement released last week.

The strike by the pilots comes after a year of disagreements with Air Europa which has been “externalizing” its services for a month now, endangering the jobs of pilots and infringing the collective agreement established between the trade union and the airline.

The strike is thought be supported by 96% of the 500 pilots employed by Air Europa, and has been scheduled to take place on Monday and Thursday of every week indefinitely until an agreement is found.

The pilots’ trade union is mainly protesting against cooperation arrangements between Air Europa and the Portuguese airline Orbest, which ‘externalize’ Air Europa services.

In December 2010, both airlines made a deal to share flights to Cancún, México and Punta Cana in Dominican Republic. Six months later, the companies made a similar arrangement for flights between the Canary Islands and the Iberian Peninsula. This last deal was reached without the trade union’s approval.

“With this action, Air Europa not only violates what our collective agreement establishes, but threatens our jobs. It is all part of a strategic plan to leave Air Europa without content,” a representative from SEPLA commented.

According to the Union, agreements of this nature cannot be done without the trade union’s consensus. The group is also accusing Air Europa executives of a boycott by withholding key information. Among the reasons for the strike, the pilots have reported instances of being harassed at work over recent months.

Air Europa, owned entirely by Globalia, is the third largest Spanish airline after Iberia and Vueling. It operates flights within Europe, to holiday resorts in the Canary and Balearic Islands as well as scheduled services to North and South America. The announced strike would affect an estimated of 280 daily flights.