Employees at Iberia have started a series of strikes, with the first five-day industrial action expected to lead to more than 1,000 flight cancellations. The strikes are directed at planned layoffs.
On Monday, ground staff and cabin crews at Spain's biggest airline, Iberia, started an initial five-day strike that organizers said would result in more than 1,200 flights being canceled through Friday.
Spain's government announced that the strike would cost about 10 million euros ($13 million) daily, hurting the tourist industry, one of Spain's major sources of income.
Two other stoppages of five days each were announced for March. On Monday alone, 230 flights were canceled, also affecting linked carriers such as Vueling, Air Nostrum and Iberia Express. But management said it had placed 60,000 of the 70,000 affected passengers on alternative flights.
Pilots not to stand aside
Those on strike said they were protesting a decision by Iberia's owner, International Airline Group, to slash about 3,800 jobs, amounting to almost 20 percent of the carrier's total workforce.
Their anger was also directed at planned wage cuts and a reduction of Iberia's network capacity by 15 percent. Pilots are expected to join the second and third phase of the strike from March 4.
Iberia argued that it had lost 850 million euros between 2008 and September 2012, forcing the company to take drastic measures in a bid to return to profitability.
hg/mkg (dpa, AP)