Iberia Lets Flyers Cancel Flights After Delays

December 17, 2008

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Spanish airline Iberia said on Wednesday it would allow customers flying over the Christmas period to cancel or change their tickets after days of flight delays and cancellations during a dispute with pilots.

The Spanish flag carrier said customers with any kind of fare, flying between December 15 and January 6, would be allowed to cancel, change and re-issue tickets.

Pilots were sticking strictly to their scheduled work hours because Iberia had not employed sufficient staff over the Christmas period, this had led to delays and cancellations, a source at pilots union SEPLA said.

Thirteen of its 900 or so flights scheduled for Wednesday were cancelled, a spokesman for the airline said, taking to 116 the total number of flights cancelled since last Friday when negotiations over pilots' terms and conditions broke down.

An Iberia spokeswoman said the pilots' case did not stand up because their work load had in fact decreased in recent months.

"What has changed in the last three months to now? There has been practically no change, there are actually less flights."

Union representatives met Iberia management again on Wednesday, but the result of the meeting was not known.

The flexible ticket plan does not cover Iberia flights operated by other companies as they are unaffected by the dispute.

Passengers have until January 11 to change the ticket or ask for a refund. New tickets are valid until June 30.