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Iberia to halt non-profitable routes, lay off 4,500 employees

MADRID, Dec 7 (KUNA) -- Spanish airlines, Iberia, said Friday it was permanently halting flights to Cairo, Istanbul, Athens, Havana in Cuba and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republicas in 2013, part of the carrier's restructuring policy.
Iberia, in a statement, said it was halting flights to these touristic cities because they were not profitable.
This move coincide with laying off of 4,500 employees, it said, with the aim of cutting cost and guaranteeing continuity. Iberia's losses in the first nine months this year were 262 million euros. The airliner said its measures aimed at improving services and double revenues in 2013.
The airlines would stop flights to Cairo, Istanbul and Athens on January 15, while routes to Havana and Santo Domigo as of April 1.
Iberia said it would rather focus on destinations like London, Dakar in Senegal, Guinea, Brazil, Mexico, Miami and Chile.
The unions of Iberia employees said their strike during the six days before the Chirstmas holidays would take place in protest of the company's restructuring plans.
They said laying off 4,500 employees, or around 25 percent of total workers, was like "dismantling" the company in favor of Iberia's partner company, British Airways.
Iberia and British Airways signed a merger deal in 2010, paving way for the creation of the largest airline group in the world with 408 planes carrying 58 million passengers every year. (end) hnd.bs KUNA 072259 Dec 12NNNN