Five questions answered on… the IAG-owned Iberia job losses

International Airlines Group (IAG), who owns British Airways, has announced it will cut a significant amount of jobs on its Iberia airline.

How many jobs are IAG cutting?

Around 4,500. It has set January 31 next year as a deadline to reach an agreement with trade unions on redundancies – if they fail to meet this deadline it will further reduce its capacity, AIG have warned. 

Why is IAG cutting these jobs? 

According to Iberia’s Chief Executive, Rafael Sánchez-Lozano, the airline is in "fight for survival" mode and is currently "burning €1.7m every day". This is what he told The Telegraph.

What else did he say? 

Justifying the job cuts Sánchez-Lozano added: 

It is unprofitable in all its markets. We have to take tough decisions now to save the company and return it to profitability.

Unless we take radical action to introduce permanent structural change the future for the airline is bleak. However this plan gives us a platform to turn the business around and grow.

What do the figures say? 

For the first 9 months of the year IAG reported a pre tax loss of €169m. This is compared to a €394m pre-tax profit last time. Also in the same period last year passenger revenues also grew from €10.1bn to €11.6bn.

What other airlines does IAG own? 

IAG also owns British Airways and bmi and has 398 aircraft flying to 200 destinations. It recently put in a bid to take over Spanish budget airline Vueling for €113m (£90m). The company was only formed in January 2011 and is listed on the London and Spanish Stock Exchanges. 

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.