Additional flights will be introduced between Spain and Equatorial Guinea after a new Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the two countries announced in May 2011 was formally signed during an official visit to Spain by the Equatorial Guinean Minister of Foreign Affairs & Cooperation, Agapito Mba Mokuy last month. Under the framework of the agreement up to eight weekly flights are permitted by designated operators from each country.
Scheduled air services between Equatorial Guinea and its former colonial power were introduced in 1992 when Iberia launched flights to the African country’s capital Malabo from both Iberia and Las Palmas on a seasonal basis. Year-round services from Madrid were introduced by the Spanish national carrier from October 1993 and it has continued to serve the market continuously since then. Between December 1997 and April 2008, Spanair also provided flights on the Madrid – Malabo route, while Air Europe served the market from August 2009 to October 2011.
From December 1, 2012 Iberia has been operating a daily service between Madrid and Malabo with the introduction of a seventh weekly rotation. It had previously added a sixth weekly flight in August 2010 and uses an Airbus A319 on the route specially configured with wider Business Class seats like some of its other longer distance medium-haul routes to destinations including Cairo, Lagos, Moscow and Tel Aviv.
Iberia is now the only Spanish carrier on the route, but it has been joined by Equatorial Guinea national carrier CEIBA Intercontinental which inaugurated flights in October this year. The airline is currently operating three flights per week using a Boeing 777, but intends to use its full network entitlement and introduce an at least daily service from next year.
According to estimated data, the O&D demand between Malabo and Madrid was approximately 38,000 passengers for the year ending December 2011, with Iberia carrying around 68 per cent of these passengers – the remainder using the flights of Air Europa. Looking further back, Iberia says it carried a total of 41,200 passengers on this route in 2010, a 7.7 per cent increase on the previous year. Nearly 50 per cent of these passengers flew on to other destinations, the most popular being São Paulo, followed by Barcelona, Cairo, Lisbon, and Valencia.
This revised air service agreement reflects the growth of the economy and the increased business activity in Equatorial Guinea, which is centered largely around petroleum and natural gas production. The government of Equatorial Guinea has launched a development plan with the goal of creating a sustainable and more diversified economy by 2020.About Equatorial Guinea. Alongside Iberia, Lufthansa and Air France offer flights between Malabo and Frankfurt and Paris, respectively, while Malabo is also served by Royal Air Maroc and Ethiopian Airlines.
The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. In the late-1990s, American companies helped discover the country's oil and natural gas resources, which only within the last five years began contributing to the global energy supply. Equatorial Guinea is now working to serve as a pillar of stability and security in its region of West Central Africa.