Iberia expects July air traffic to reach 60% of 2019 level
Iberia, the Spanish branch of airline group IAG (ICAG.L), expects its monthly flights to reach 60% of 2019 levels by July, as travel begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic .
This month, Iberia is flying 40% of May 2019 levels and plans to hit 50% of the last pre-pandemic in June next month, commercial director Maria Jesus Lopez Solas told reporters on Thursday at the FITUR tourism in Madrid.
CEO Javier Sanchez Prieto said Spain must open up to the rest of the world, especially Latin America, after months of air travel restrictions imposed to curb COVID-19.
The decision to reopen the routes between Spain and Latin America is expected in a few weeks, Prieto said.
“There is a huge pent-up demand: as soon as the restrictions are lifted, we see bookings start to pour in,” said Lopez Solas, adding that Iberia planned to visit 18 Latin American capitals in June.
The national airline wants to increase flights to Asia from Spain – now only 5% of the total – in the hope of aligning Madrid Barajas airport with other European hubs, which average 20 to 25% of flights to Asia.
Iberia welcomed the European Commission’s recommendation to resume travel to third countries, but denounced the environmental taxes included in a plan presented by Spain to the EU’s executive arm to access some 14 billion euros of recovery fund.
“There is a demonization of airlines that will penalize the entire value chain,” said Lopez-Solas.
Iberia will become one of IAG’s two Spanish brands as the group looks to add rival Air Europa to its list, with the deal due to be signed in the second half of 2021, chief executive Sanchez-Prieto said.
Asked whether having the two Spanish airlines under the same umbrella would lead to layoffs, Sanchez-Prieto praised Spain’s pandemic time off before responding: “We’ll see – the vision final is that no one is in excess, and for the moment we concerning the competitors, growing in parallel. “
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