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Strike at Spain’s Iberia Express grounds flights

Iberia Express, the low-cost arm of Spain’s national carrier, cancelled eight domestic flights Sunday as cabin crew launched a 10-day strike for higher wages amid soaring inflation.

The walkout, which will run from August 28 to September 6, is expected to involve 92 cancellations affecting more than 17,000 passengers, a spokeswoman for the USO union said.

The stoppage comes as Spain’s airline sector struggles with rolling strikes by staff at budget rivals EasyJet and Ryanair.

Neighbouring Portugal also suffered a weekend of strikes by baggage handlers.

By midday (1000 GMT), eight flights had been cancelled in Spain but there were no delays, a USO statement said, indicating 1,500 passengers had been affected.

Iberia Express confirmed eight “preventative cancellations”, saying in a statement it had arranged alternative flights or transport for 84 percent of affected passengers, with the rest opting for a refund or vouchers.

On Friday, the airline had announced it would cancel 24 domestic flights during the first three days of the walkout, affecting some 3,000 passengers.

It did not immediately say how many more flights would be axed beyond those initial dates.

Iberia Express connects Madrid with about 40 cities across Europe.

Spain’s national carrier Iberia is owned by IAG, which also owns British Airways and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.

Meanwhile, four EasyJet flights were also cancelled on Sunday as the airline’s pilots observed their third period of strike action this month, the SEPLA union said.

The cancellations affected flights into or out of Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands that were coming from or flying to London and Geneva.

Since they began their first three-day strike on August 12, there have been 79 flight cancellations.

The pilots are demanding the restoration of conditions they enjoyed before the pandemic and the resumption of talks for a new collective agreement.

Their walkout began just two weeks after a strike by EasyJet cabin crew which resulted in a deal.

In Portugal, meanwhile, several major airports were hit by stoppages from baggage handling company Portway on the final day of a three-day wage protest affecting dozens of flights.

Portway stated 69 flights were cancelled in Lisbon and Porto with 196 flights hit altogether across the stoppage which also affected Algarve hub Faro and Funchal on Madeira.

Unions put the affected flight tally at 230.