Iberia losing market share in key Latam routes

MADRID Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:40am EST

Iberia airplanes are parked on the tarmac at Madrid's Barajas airport November 9, 2012. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Iberia airplanes are parked on the tarmac at Madrid's Barajas airport November 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sergio Perez

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish airline Iberia is losing ground to rivals on its prized routes to Latin America and, because it is unable to close the gap, it may change some services or stop flying them temporarily.

"At the moment we are not competitive and we cannot defend the market share we have," chief executive Rafael Sanchez Lozano said on Friday in a radio interview,

Iberia, part of International Airlines Group (ICAG.L), controlled around 20 percent of all routes to Latin America from Europe, but was not capable of defending its market share from rivals such as Air France (AIRF.PA), Sanchez Lozano said.

Iberia, in the middle of a restructuring, said this month it will axe a quarter of its staff, or 4,500 workers, to stop losses. It hopes the shake-up will improve profit by at least 600 million euros in the next three years.

Earlier this month, IAG reported a 96 percent fall in nine-month operating profit, to 17 million euros, pulled lower by high fuel costs and a 262 million euro operating loss at Iberia. (Reporting by Robert Hetz; Writing by Nigel Davies; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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