Posted on: 07 December 2011 by Ross McSweeny
IAG chairman Antonio Vazquez, commenting on the decision to launch Iberia Express while the conglomerate has a stake in Vueling, has explained that pilot contracts prevent the latter from operating at Madrid.
Speaking at the Aviation Club in London, Vazquez paid tribute to Vueling as a ‘solid and successful operator’ in the low-fare sector. “If we could work with them at our hub in Madrid we would.” It would be, he added, “a splendid reality, but the fact is our labour agreement does not allow it.”
Vazquez was elaborating on a question posed by Kel Ryan (retired of Ryanair) who pointed out that every time a legacy carrier tried to set up a low-fare subsidiary – Snowflake, Buzz, Ted, Song, CentralWings, and so on, it has failed. “We have had a very good experience with Vueling and the original clickair (back in 2004) and we know what we are doing,” Vazquez responded. “The important thing is that we have to start with a new set of employment rules and we need to do this as we face more competition from the low-cost carriers and from the high speed train.”
Iberia’s current high cost structure means that its short-haul pilots earn more than British Airways’ pilots flying long haul routes. Some 70% of Iberia passengers are connecting at Madrid Barajas Airport, he said. The new ‘more cost efficient’ Iberia Express is scheduled to set up in April 2012 and will support 13 Airbus A320s by the end of next year, 40 by 2015.
Iberia pilots, however, have announced plans for strike action on 18 December and 29 December in protest at the development.
Alison Chambers, Emerald Media, for LARAnews.net