Iberia strike grounds planes and causes misery for half-term travellers

Strikes at Madrid's main airport will see more than 400 flights cancelled and 7,000 passengers affected this week, causing misery for British tourists going to Spain for half-term holidays.

The Daily Mail reports that the strike, which started on Monday, is to last five days with workers demonstrating at the Barajas airport over job losses at Iberia, Spain's national airline which merged with British Airways in 2011.

According to Reuters, hundreds of strikers inside the airport's Terminal 4 carried out a sit-in and chanted.

Outside the terminal, some workers were beaten with truncheons by police and at least two protestors were arrested.

More than 80 Iberia flights were cancelled on Monday as the carrier's workers began the series of strikes that could cost the airline and struggling national economy millions of euros in lost business.

Staff, including air stewards and baggage handlers, are holding the five-day strikes in February and March to protest management plans to cut jobs and salaries at the airline.

'Nobody is safe from being sacked,' said Elias Gonzalez, a maintenance supervisor at the protest who has worked for Iberia for 27 years told Reuters.

'There was an initial deal with the company when the merger with the British was agreed, but now there is disagreement.'

Ten per cent of long-haul flights and half of domestic services will be grounded this week.

Iberia reported a loss of £220 million in the first nine months of 2012.

The strike, due to last from 18 to 22 February, will hit British tourists particularly hard as it coincides with the school holidays. The UK is Spain's biggest source of tourists.

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