Ultimatum on Alicante, Bilbao and Malaga airports

Iberia's ultimatum at three airports

Image of Malaga Airport. Credit: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com

The dispute between Spanish airport operator, Iberia and unions representing ground staff is still unresolved, leading to an ultimatum which looks set to impact three Spanish airports.

Iberia announced on Thursday, that without a union agreement within 24 hours, it will proceed on Friday, February 2 to transfer its workers at three airports it recently lost in an Aena bid to third-party companies.

This impacts the staff at Bilbao (with the license transfer set for February 20), Malaga (February 21), and Alicante (February 28).

Urgent call for agreement

The handling sector’s agreement provides a 21 to 28-day window for employee rights during such transfers.

Iberia stressed the irreversible nature of their decision, advocating for a proposed agreement they claim ‘guarantees the future of handling and its workers’. They urge for ‘responsibility of everyone’ in this critical moment.

Creation of a new ‘Autohandling’ company

After a failed bid and a four-day strike during the Reyes festivities, Iberia suggested founding a new company under the International Airlines Group (IAG) to manage ground services exclusively for its airlines. As well as Iberia, these include British Airways, Vueling, Aer Lingus and Level

However, unions demand this setup only at the eight airports Iberia which have been lost. ‘It has been and is indisputable the firm will and absolute determination of Iberia to put on the table a viable, solid, competitive and profitable alternative,’ the company declared, aiming to keep all employees within the IAG umbrella and avoid third-party subrogation.

Plans for workforce renewal

In parallel, Iberia is offering voluntary departure and early retirement packages to up to 1,727 employees by the end of 2026, aiming not to reduce but to refresh the workforce in line with company growth.

This new entity would operate under a fresh brand, promising ‘real and viable possibilities’ for expansion both domestically and into Europe and Latin America.

The proposal includes maintaining current working conditions and rights for all transferring employees, as per the Iberia agreement, while new employees would adhere to the sector’s standard terms.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.