Iberia Airlines

Iberia, Líneas Aéreas de España, S.A. (Iberia, Airlines of Spain) or Iberia as it is commonly known, is the largest airline of Spain, based in Madrid and is the Spanish flag carrier. It operates an extensive international network of services. Its main bases are Madrid - Barajas Airport and Barcelona Airport.

In 2007 the airline reported a net profit of €327.6 million (€56.7 million in 2006, €395 million in 2005) — its 12th consecutive year of profits. Iberia transported 27,799,000 passengers in 2006 (27,675,000 in 2005).

Iberia Airlines, with Iberia Regional (operated by an independent carrier Air Nostrum), is a part of Iberia Group. In addition to transporting passengers and freight, Iberia Group carries out related activities, such as aircraft maintenance, handling in airports, IT systems, and in-flight catering. Iberia Group airlines fly to over 102 destinations in 39 countries. Via code-sharing arrangements with other companies, it offers flights to another 90 destinations. With a fleet of over 200 aircraft, it makes about 1,000 flights each day.


Iberia, Compañía Aérea de Transportes was incorporated on June 28 1927 with a capital investment by the financier Horacio Echeberrieta and Lufthansa of 1.1 million pesetas. Flight operations started on 14 December 1927. Within a year, the company was sponsored by the Spanish government to provide postal transport between Madrid and Barcelona. During the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, the aviation companies in Spain were combined and become state-controlled as a general interest public utility, comiong into effect in early 1928. As a consequence, Iberia was merged into Compañía de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas S.A. (C.L.A.S.S.A.) and ceased activities on May 29 1929. The name "Iberia" continued to be registered by Director-General Daniel de Araoz y Aréjula. As the name "Iberia" was still registered, it was used when operations began in nationalist-held territory towards the end of Spanish Civil War. Following the civil war it became a purely domestic airline.

The airline was nationalised on 30 September 1944 and became part of INI. In 1946, it was the first airline to fly between Europe and South America after WWII, using a Douglas DC-4 flying from Madrid to Buenos Aires. By the Pact of Madrid in 1953, visa requirements were eliminated for US visitors to Spain. This stimulated the commencement of transatlantic flights between Spain and United States the following year. In addition, the amendments made in Montreal to the Convention on International Civil Aviation on June 14 1954 was very liberal to Spain, allowing mass tourism using charter planes.

By the time of the 50th anniversary in 1977, the airline carried over 10 million passengers in a year for the first time. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Iberia also began to build up interests in other Spanish airlines - Aviaco, Viva Air, Binter Canarias and Binter Mediterraneo and Latin American airlines - Aerolíneas Argentinas, Viasa and Ladeco. .

During 2001 Iberia was privatized and shares were listed on stock exchanges. By 2002, when Iberia celebrated its 75th anniversary, nearly 500 million people had flown with them.

On February 5 2006 the new Terminal 4 at Madrid Barajas was given over to Iberia and the Oneworld alliance members. This provided much-needed expansion capabilities for Iberia. Iberia alone is responsible for around 60% of the airport's traffic. In 2005 the airline and its regional branch Air Nostrum transported 21,619,041 passengers to/from Barajas alone.


On April 3, 2001, Iberia was privatized and included in the IBEX-35 stock index of the Madrid stock exchange. The core shareholders are: Caja Madrid 23.45%, British Airways 13.2%, SEPI 5.20%, El Corte Inglés 2.90% . British Airways has raised its stake in Iberia by purchasing American Airlines' remaining shares, reportedly paying £13m for the small shareholding. This increases the total stake in Iberia to around 10% and preserves its two seats on the Iberia board . British Airways also has first right to purchase another 32% of Iberia's shares. Consequently any takeover of Iberia will require the approval of British Airways. British Airways cannot acquire more than 49% of Iberia as bilateral air services agreements between Spain and non-EU countries require Iberia to remain in overall Spanish ownership (at least 51%) if the airline is to retain its rights to fly to these countries from Spain. While the new EU-US Open Skies deal on air services removes this requirement on all flights between the EU and US by EU airlines, this is not the case for the lucrative Latin American market on which Iberia relies for the majority of its profits.

On 29th July 2008, British Airways and Iberia confirmed they are in merger talks.

The name and the size of the future company are unknown at present.

Iberia has 24,348 employees (at March 2007).

Subsidiaries and alliances

Iberia has a 20% stake in low-cost carrier Clickair, which is based in Barcelona and a 0.95% share in Royal Air Maroc.

Iberia is allied with American Airlines, Qantas, Avianca, British Airways, PLUNA of Uruguay and Grupo TACA, and on 1 September, 1999, the company joined the Oneworld alliance. British Airways owns 13.5% of its share capital.

Iberia also has a codeshare agreement with several Oneworld members: Cathay Pacific on flights from Amsterdam and London Heathrow to Hong Kong, Japan Airlines on flights from Amsterdam to Tokyo Narita and Royal Jordanian from Madrid to Amman.


In 2005, Iberia introduced its new Business Plus Class, on its Airbus A340 aircraft.

In addition, Iberia is an aircraft maintenance company, servicing its fleet and those of another 48 companies, including some leading European airlines. Iberia is a supplier of aircraft handling services at all Spanish airports, its airline clients number more than 200.

Iberia was a founding partner in the computerized air ticket reservation system, Amadeus, with an 18.28% stake - this was sold in 2005. Iberia is also active as a tour operator through its Viva Tours and Tiempo Libre units, and with Cacesa it supplies parcel shipment services.

Iberia Airlines makes use of e-tickets and encourages customers to print the boarding pass prior to their flight. Travelers with only carry-on baggage can go directly to the boarding gate. e-tickets sales accounted for 93% of all Iberia tickets sold in January 2006. In Spain identification of the traveler by means of an identity document or passport is mandatory for all airlines on all routes, including Spanish domestic ones.


On the 20th May 2008, Iberia airlines confirmed it had reached an agreement with the airport officials in Paraguay and that it would re-start flights to Asuncion again in the near future.


Gate Gourmet provides Iberia's in-flight catering. Economy class passengers traveling within western Europe have a buy on board food program called "Tu Menú.


The Iberia fleet consists of the following aircraft as of September 2008:

Iberia Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers Routes Notes
Airbus A319-100 22
(2 orders)
132 (132) Short-medium haul EC-KKS uses the 'Iberia Retrojet' livery
Airbus A320-200 47
(14 orders)
153 (153) Short-medium haul
Airbus A321-200 19 174 (82/92) Short-medium haul
Airbus A330-300 (2 orders) 293 (42/251) Long haul & Medium haul
Airbus A340-300 21 260 (42/218) Long haul & Medium haul Renovation of the cabin, AVOD system 2008/2009
Airbus A340-600 12
(5 orders) 4 New 1 Used
352 (52/300)
352 (10/52/290)
Long haul & Medium haul Renovation of the cabin, AVOD system 2008/2009
McDonnell Douglas MD-88 5 150 (150) Short haul Exit from service: 2008

In October 2008, the average age of the Iberia fleet was 7.4 years.

Iberia will have an all Airbus fleet by 2008, after retiring all of its remaining Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft, unless it buys the Boeing 787.

Iberia's livery is a Eurowhite scheme, composed of primarily white with orange and yellow accents.

Although it initially expressed little interest in the Airbus A380, Iberia's financial director Enrique Dupuy has recently spoken about how this new plane could benefit Iberia's higher density routes such as Buenos Aires, Mexico City or Bogota, Latin American cities which it serves triple-daily. Alternatively however, Iberia has also left the door open for Boeing. Having already handled the Boeing 747, Iberia is also considering the newer 747-8 version for a similar purpose. The decision will, accordingly be made either at the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009. If the plan goes smoothly, Iberia will have a fleet of 10-12 Airbus A380s or Boeing 747-8s before 2014.

Additionally, Iberia has been evaluating the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 as options to join and substitute (oldest models only) its Airbus A340 fleet. Iberia has expressed most interest in the Boeing 787, which although more expensive, is already in production and hopes to begin delivering in the near future. This way Iberia hopes to reach their target of 40+ long haul planes in its fleet by 2011, with the rest arriving by 2014. . Iberia's Investment Director Angel Frances put the cost for 30 of these planes at €4.85 billion.

Air Nostrum Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers Routes Notes
ATR 72 5 68 Mainland Spain
Bombardier CRJ-200ER 35 50 Mainland Spain & Mediterranean Routes
Bombardier CRJ-900 11 89 Mainland Spain & Mediterranean Routes
de Havilland Canada Dash 8 Q300 19 52 Mainland Spain

Incidents and accidents

10.28.1957, Madrid, Spain, Iberia Douglas DC-3. - casualties: 21/21 04.29.1959, Valdemeca, Spain, Iberia Douglas DC-3. - casualties: 28/28 10.12.1962 Camona, Spain, Iberia Convair CV-440. - casualties: 18/18

03.31.1965, Tangiers, Morocco, Iberia Convair CV-440. - casualties: 50/53 05.05.1965, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Lockheed L-1049G. - casualties: 30/49 11.04.1967, Sussex, England. Sud Aviation SE210 Caravelle. - casualties: 37/37 01.07.1972, Sierra de Atalayasa, Spain. Sud Aviation SE210 Caravelle. - casualties: 104/104 03.05.1973, La Trauche, France. McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32. - casualties: 68/68 12.07.1983, Madrid, Spain. Boeing 727-256. - casualties: 51/93 02.19.1985, Durango, Vizcaya, Spain. Boeing 727-256. - casualties: 148/148

On July 28 2006, ground staff at El Prat airport went on an unannounced strike and occupied the runway. The illegal strike, which coincided with one of the busiest weekends of the summer season, was attributed to the labor conflicts stemming from Iberia having lost its contract to provide ground services to a rival company. The airport was closed for the day and caused thousands of passenger delays. Some stranded passengers had to find their baggage and it took three days to remove the backlog of delays. In September 2006, the Spanish parliament agreed to certain compensatory payments to travellers who were affected.

On 9 November 2007 an Iberia A340-600 was badly damaged after sliding off the runway at Mariscal Sucre International Airport. No injuries were reported.

On 31 July 2008 an Iberia McDonnell Douglas MD-88, on flight IB3575 from Vienna (Austria) to Madrid (Spain) with 126 passengers and 6 crew, made an emergency landing after a burst tyre was ingested by the engine . No injuries were reported.

On 24 August 2008 Javier Aguado, on an interview published by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, accused IBERIA of "extreme safety faults", as an Airbus A320 that landed at Vigo on June 6 2004 with an overheated engine, and the airline used that plane again four times without changing the engine, as the standard procedure mandates. Mr. Aguado also claims that another Airbus plane flew for ten years with several fissures in the cargo area and those were corrected with "plastic sheeting and contact cement." As August 25th 2008 Iberia has not deny Javier Aguado's accusations.


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