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Around 2,000 air and ground staff from Spanish flag carrier Iberia protested in Madrid on Thursday over planned job cuts.

Labour unions and the company’s management are currently discussing a five-year restructuring plan which could see some 4,500 jobs axed.

The company, which is Europe’s biggest carrier to Latin America, has been struggling against competition from low cost airlines and high speed trains, as well as high operating costs and the economic crisis in Spain.

Iberia employee Julia Pastor said the cuts will have a wider effect: “What is happening in Iberia is a bit like what is happening in the country, job destruction.”

“Spain is a country that lives because of tourism so Iberia’s problem does not only affect 4,500 workers it could be more, 6,000 or more if we don’t stop them, but a lot of indirect jobs around the airport (will be affected as well),” she added.

The protesters say the cuts benefit the United Kingdom’s British Airways with which Iberia merged in 2011.

Last month IAG, which was formed by the merger, posted a 96 percent fall in nine-month operating profits to just 17 million euros.

This was pulled lower by a 262 million euro operating loss at Iberia, while BA posted a nine-month operating profit of 286 million euros.

The group says it hopes the plan will improve profits by at least 600 million euros in the next three years.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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