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Spanish flag carrier, Iberia is making plans to open new routes to Asia, Africa and the Americas over the next two years. The new long-haul destinations will be announced before the end of this calendar year, following final negotiations and profitability studies.
Iberia says the improved economic outlook has led the airline to seek new opportunities both in its traditional markets and in new territories. Destinations now under study include Tokyo, Doha, Johannesburg, Toronto, Guadalajara, Managua, San Juan de Puerto Rico, Brasilia, and Asunción with flights to the selected destinations being launched in 2016 and 2017.
“This expansion is made possible by the successful implementation of Iberia’s Plan de Futuro and consequential improvements in costs and earnings performance, which is meeting the company’s objectives, as the latest report by parent IAG attests,” the airline said in a statement.
Since April, 2014, when the Plan de Futuro was launched and new agreements were reached with unions, the Iberia Group has launched 30 new routes to 22 new destinations, including Havana, Montevideo, Santo Domingo, Cali and Medellin in Latin America; and Florence, Hamburg, Budapest, Edinburgh, Naples, Istanbul, Athens, Stockholm, and Amsterdam in Europe.
“This announcement is a confirmation of our commitment to global growth, though always under the premise that sustained profitability is the key criteria. Also crucial is the support of our customers, employees, and IAG shareholders,” said Luis Gallego, executive chairman, Iberia.
The growth will be supported by the arrival of additional widebodied equipment into the Iberia fleet. Alongside the network talks, and subject to final contractual negotiations, Iberia’s parent company IAG plans to convert in firm orders up to five A330-200 and eight A350-900 options to expand and renew Iberia long-haul fleet.
Early this year IAG also ordered 16 new long-haul aircraft for Iberia, eight A330-200s to be delivered this year and next, along with eight A350-900s, for delivery in 2018-2020. In 2013 and 2014 eight new A330-300s were added to the Iberia fleet.
The airline is set to debut the A330-200 in its long-haul network from the start of next year after receiving its first new aircraft in the latter stage of 2015. It plans to configure the aircraft in a two-class, 288-seat arrangement with space for 19 Business Class and 269 Economy passengers. The airline’s latest schedule inventory for winter 2015/2016 shows the aircraft entering long-haul schedule operations on January 1, 2016 with a one-off flight between Madrid and Panama City.
The type is currently planned to be deployed on weekly scheduled services on the Madrid – Guatemala City route from January 2, 2016; weekly between Madrid and Montevideo from January 3, 2016 and four times weekly on Madrid – Santo Domingo from January 5, 2016 to January 31, 2016.
From February 2016, following the arrival of an additional aircraft, the A330-200 will mainly serve the Madrid – Montevideo market (five times weekly from February 3, 2016) and complemented by twice weekly services on Madrid – Panama City and Madrid – Guatemala City, while flights between Madrid and Santo Domingo will once again be served by the type from March 1, 2016 on a six times weekly schedule.