STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE management of Palma-based airline Spanair confirmed yesterday that it is to close its operating centre in Palma, and four others of its seven airport bases in Spain, “in order to concentrate all its resources” in Madrid and Barcelona with the loss of over 500 jobs in Majorca.

Airline sources said that the announcement was made by Spanair management at a meeting held yesterday morning with the company's Works Committee at the Hotel Royal Cristina in Arenal in Palma. This stage of proceedings had been reached following an abortive meeting in Madrid last week which failed to reach any satisfactory conclusion.

The same sources argued that the closure of bases to concentrate on a narrower focus was “essential”. There was, they said, no other realistic option for Spanair if they were to “increase efficiency, lower costs and ensure the continued viability of the company.” Spanair claimed that turning all their attention to Madrid and Barcelona will result in a cost reduction exercise for the company “forced” on them by the current economic climate - one which has proved to be much worse than predicted a year ago when there had been a “much more positive” outlook in terms of the price of fuel and growth of the economy.

Analysing the job losses in more detail, the company said that it will have to terminate the contracts of between 95 and 105 pilots; 140 to 215 air crew; 55 to 70 mechanics; 110 to 140 ground staff; 260 to 290 administration workers; 70 to 90 airport sales agents; and 50 to 60 in the airline call centre.

Even so, the final number of workers to lose their jobs “will be decided after negotiations with the staff”. Spanair management were confident of setting up a negotiating table some time ago, although yesterday all that was achieved was the passing of the details of the company cuts onto the Union representatives. Sources suggested that the reduction in the number of air bases will “provide an additional flexibility to allow growth in the future.” Spanair is currently the country's airline with the largest number of operating bases, with Air Europa holding five and the national carrier Iberia only one. The cut in bases, they claimed, will not affect the routes between the Balearics and the mainland.

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