Spanish flag carrier Iberia is to introduce flights to the Colombian cities of Cali and Medellin from its Madrid Barajas International Airport hub this summer. The new three times weekly triangle route will launch in July 2015 as part of an expanded long-haul schedule from the European carrier, which will also see it return to Havana, Cuba.
The airline, part of the British-Spanish multinational International Consolidated Airlines Group holding company alongside British Airways, says the long-haul expansion has been driven by its ongoing business transformation process and new cost structure which has provided “the flexibility, commitment, and good disposition of the Iberia pilots, thus ensuring its profitability”.
The new flight to Colombia will route Madrid – Medellin – Cali – Madrid on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from July 3, 2015 and will complement its existing capital city link between Madrid and Bogota. The two new Colombian destinations are already directly linked to Madrid by Avianca.
The return of the Havana route follows just two years after the carrier closed the link in early 2013 as part of widespread route restructuring within its Transformation Plan to return the business to profitability. Iberia will offer a five times weekly service on the route from June 1, 2015 with flights departing every day except Thursdays and Fridays, joining Air Europa, Cubana and Evelop Airlines in this market. The new routes will be flown using its Airbus A330-300s.
“I am delighted to be able to announce that Iberia is returning to Cuba. When we suspended Madrid-Havana services two years ago we pledged to return as soon as we could make the route sustainable over time, and that moment has arrived,” said Luis Gallego, chairman and chief executive officer, Iberia.
“The changes made in Iberia in the past several months allow us not only to return to Cuba, but to operate new flights to new destinations in Latin America, such as Cali and Medellin, which will strengthen Iberia’s leadership in the region still further,” he added.
These additional destinations raise to 23 the number of routes resumed or launched by Iberia in the past year, since agreements were reached with employee unions on cost reductions and productivity hikes last February and March, and the implementation of Iberia’s Future Plan.
In 2014 Iberia launched services to Montevideo, Santo Domingo, Istanbul, and Athens, while its low-cost Iberia Express unit began flying to Stockholm, Amsterdam, Hanover, and Stuttgart. Other new Iberia routes to open shortly are to Florence, Hamburg, Catania, Palermo, Budapest, and Madeira.
Meanwhile, Iberia Express will soon be serving Edinburgh, Manchester, Naples, London-Gatwick, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Budapest and Verona. The low-fare unit will also also fly from Asturias to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, the company’s first domestic flight not linked to Madrid.
Iberia for a long time has been the leading carrier between Europe and Latin America but in recent years as it has restructured its network, it has slipped behind Air France into the number two position by seat capacity. In fact between 2010 and 2014 Iberia's capacity between Europe and Latin America has declined by 11.6 per cent.
In our analysis, below, we look more closely at the leading operators between Europe and Latin America over the current decade. Overall capacity has increased by 16.2 per cent since 2010, an average annual growth of 4.1 per cent per annum.