Air Europa owns 50 planes and has a further 15 on order. | EUROPA PRESS

Pilots at Spain's struggling airline Air Europa will go on strike on May 1, 2, 4 and 5 amid a wage dispute with the company, the country's largest pilots' union SEPLA said on Wednesday. Among other demands, pilots are seeking an unspecified increase to their wages, which they say have stagnated over the past few years after a string of crises afflicted the company together with the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on air travel.

"This measure responds to the tension and labour conflict generated by Air Europa management playing with workers' rights," the union said in a statement, adding that pilots "feel discriminated" by the company. "Giving in to these pressures from managers would have been irresponsible with the professional and personal future of the group of pilots," SEPLA said, in reference to undisclosed terms offered by the management during negotiations that were rejected by the union.

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An Air Europa spokesperson declined to comment on the ongoing dispute. But in a leaked internal memo to staff reported by Europa Press news agency, the company described the strike as "irresponsible and selfish" and accused SEPLA of intending to strike "since the very start" regardless of the negotiations. The memo's authenticity has been independently confirmed by Reuters.

In February, British Airways and Iberia owner International Airlines Group agreed to buy the remaining 80% of Air Europa it did not already own from Spain's Globalia for 400 million euros ($438 million). The troubled airline, which will maintain its brand but will be managed by Iberia, has said it owns 50 planes and has a further 15 on order.