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90% of Pilots At Spanish Low-Cost Airline, Vueling Vote To Strike: They Feel “Ignored, Neglected and Despised”

90% of Pilots At Spanish Low-Cost Airline, Vueling Vote To Strike: They Feel “Ignored, Neglected and Despised”

90% of Pilots At Spanish Low-Cost Airline, Vueling Vote To Strike: They Feel "Ignored, Neglected and Despised"

The Spanish SEPLA pilots union has said over 90% of pilots it represents at the low-cost airline, Vueling have voted to go on strike over what it calls “deep discontent” with the airline. Stoppages are planned on 25th and 26th April, as well as 3rd and 4th May.

At a press conference held several days ago, a representative from the union, Juan Manuel Redondo, said there had been “constant unfulfilled promises by the company” and “enormous sacrifices” made by pilots at the airline.

“The pilots of Vueling feel ignored, neglected and despised,” Redondo commented. He apologised to passengers who might be caught up in the action, saying “the last thing we want is to harm our customers.”

Established in 2004, Vueling now operates a fleet of over 100 Airbus A320 family aircraft to 137 points across Europe. In the last few years, the Spanish airline, owned by IAG has come in for heavy criticism for its on-time performance and flight cancellation rate.

Pilots at the airline say they’ve conceded much in that time in order to allow Vueling to recover and “re-position itself in the market.” Over 120 pilots are said to have left Vueling since early 2017 – a situation that the union claims demonstrates the “malaise” amongst flight crew.

SEPLA says the airline has focused on hiring pilots outside of Spain to lower costs – they say pilot numbers in cheaper to hire countries have increased 85% compared to 15% growth in Spain.

At the same time, Vueling is alleged to have breached a collective bargaining agreement – including access to promotion, rest periods and days off.

“The situation now is that pilots who want to progress professionally can only do it abroad. However, Vueling’s failure to comply with our agreements on these bases means that you can rescind your Spanish contract to sign a new one that does not include acquired labour rights,” Redondo explained.

How big an impact the strike will have is uncertain – with Vueling putting an emphasis on hiring foreign pilots in bases outside of Spain, SEPLA’s action might only have a limited effect.

We reached out to Vueling on two separate occasions for comment on this story but the airline did not respond to our enquiry.

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