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Briefs: Iberia workers plan strikes; Air Canada expands overseas routes

In news of international airlines, employees at Spain’s Iberia Airlines plan pre-holiday walkouts; Air Canada announces new international expansion for 2013 and a new code-sharing partner; and Lufthansa issues an update on its growing in-flight Internet technology.

  • Unions representing cabin crew and ground staff at Iberia Airlines, angered over management’s recently announced plan to slash 4,500 jobs in the face of mounting losses, say they will walk off the job this month, according to media reports from Europe. The strikes are planned for December 14 and again for the five days from December 17 through 21. Iberia’s business has been hard hit by the ongoing economic crisis in Spain, which has pushed national unemployment to record levels. Iberia is owned by the International Airlines Group, which also owns British Airways, and is part of a transatlantic joint venture with BA and American Airlines.

  • Air Canada’s international route plans for 2013 include additional transpacific flights to key business destinations and a new code-sharing agreement with Turkish Airlines. The airline said it will launch Toronto-Istanbul service three times a week in early June, and will also start swapping codes with Star Alliance partner Turkish Airlines for flights beyond Istanbul to the Mideast and Africa. Air Canada also will begin new Toronto-Seoul flights three times a week on June 2. On June 1, the airline will increase its Toronto-Beijing schedule from seven flights a week to 10 and boost Vancouver-Beijing frequencies from seven a week to 11; in May, it will add two more flights a week to its Calgary-Tokyo Narita route, to a total of seven.

  • Lufthansa reports that its FlyNet in-flight Internet technology is now on 80 of its long-haul aircraft, and by mid-December will be “generally available across Lufthansa’s entire long-haul network (with the exception of China and South Africa).” The Internet service will also come pre-installed on new 747-8s that will join the fleet in March 2013, the company said. It added that many of the aircraft are now equipped to offer Sport 24, an English-language live sports channel that has exclusive rights to broadcast top events like Formula 1 races, the Super Bowl, Wimbledon, the French Open tennis tournament and golf specials like the Ryder Cup and U.S. Open. Sport 24 is integrated into a free portal and can be watched via wireless LAN on passengers’ personal devices. Lufthansa said.

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