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Iberia Pilots Plan Christmas-Period Strikes Over Low-Cost Unit

Pilots at Iberia, the Spanish division of International Consolidated Airlines Group, plan to strike for two days during the Christmas holiday period in a dispute over work assignments as the carrier reorganizes.

Flight crews will stop work on Dec. 18 and 29, said a spokeswoman for Iberia in Madrid, who declined to be named in line with company policy. No one was immediately available to comment at the Sepla pilots union or the transport department of the Public Works Ministry in Madrid.

The pilots are protesting Iberia’s plans to create a lower- cost unit for short-haul flights. The Spanish company, which merged with British Airways at the beginning of this year to create London-based IAG, plans to transfer planes to the Iberia Express unit in 2012 to boost profitability of domestic and European flights.

Iberia is waiting for the government to decide on the minimum level of services pilots will have to provide, and is working on contingency plans including finding seats on other airlines for its customers, the carrier said in an e-mailed statement.

IAG fell as much as 3.1 percent to 149.6 pence, the biggest intraday decline since Nov. 29, and was down 2.3 percent at 1:44 p.m. in London. The stock has declined 45 percent this year, valuing the company at 2.8 billion pounds ($4.4 billion).

To contact the reporters on this story: Emma Ross-Thomas in Madrid at erossthomas@bloomberg.net; Sharon Smyth in Madrid at ssmyth2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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