Spain’s General Workers and the Workers Commission unions announced airport workers and other AENA employees are considering striking over the busy Easter holiday season (Barcelona Reporter/Typically Spanish, 26-Feb-2011). Industrial action would be taken to protest the government’s sale of 49% of AENA. The unions stated the strikes would affect airports across the country. AENA director Javier Marin remains confident a deal to avoid strikes could be achieved. The federal government prevented an air traffic control strike in Dec-2010 by imposing an emergency decree that threatened employees with prison and placed the country’s ATC system under military supervision.
AENA workers threaten strike over Easter
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AENA: Spain's airport operator must cut charges, but airline yields are already falling
After much delay, in late Jan-2017 the Spanish Council of Ministers approved the airport regulation document setting AENA's airport charges for the next five years. The headline numbers include a 2.2% annual decline in charges from 2017 to 2021, equivalent to an overall cut of 11% through the period.
The legal framework prevents tariff increases before 2025, but the outcome was in contrast with the Spanish airport group's own proposal to freeze charges. Strong traffic growth of 11% to an all time high level of 230 million passengers in 2016 may have influenced the regulator's decision.
In response, AENA has decided to remove an incentive mechanism which rewards airlines for traffic growth with airport charge discounts. The removal of discounts is estimated to offset the 11% reduction by one third.
In fact, this discount scheme has been quite effective in stimulating traffic growth in recent years. However, traffic growth in Spain was also boosted in 2016 by high airline capacity growth switched from other (risk) markets. Airline yield declines are probably noticeably heavier than AENA's regulated price reduction.
"Level": IAG's new long haul low cost brand to launch 4 routes from Barcelona, with more to come
On 17-Mar-2017, IAG announced the launch of its newest airline brand, 'Level', which it will use to operate the group's first long haul low cost flights from Jun-2017. The launch routes will be from Barcelona to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. It will compete head to head with Norwegian on the Los Angeles and Oakland routes.
In Dec-2016, IAG had said that it had not yet decided whether to create a new brand or to operate its planned Barcelona long haul low cost routes under one of its existing brands British Airways, Iberia or even Aer Lingus. Vueling was ruled out, although its strength at Barcelona will provide connecting feed. IAG's solution is to create Level, a new airline brand, but to operate it initially with Iberia pilots and cabin crew.
IAG has also confirmed that Level will deploy two new 314 seat Airbus A330-200s (293 economy and 21 premium economy) and will create up to 250 jobs based in Barcelona. Level, IAG's first entirely new airline brand, will also look to expand to add flights from other European cities.