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Iberia AIRLINES


Premium economy


Iberia rolled out its first long-haul premium economy cabins in May 2017 and initial indications show the new product is performing well.


The Iberia premium economy


Iberia faces strong competition from low-cost carriers


we are in the right position to do that,” he says. “Asia is also a good development market for Iberia. We could offer connections between Latin America and Asia, using Madrid as a transfer hub.” This all feeds into Iberia’s plan to add an


average of 4% capacity each year between now and 2021. “We needed to reduce our capacity growth, compared with the previous plan, because of the market situation we’ve been facing,” Gallego adds. He explains that the Spanish economy


is generally recovering and several sources show that the country is approaching pre- crisis levels. However, competition is fierce, with low-cost carriers now carrying 53% of all tourist arrivals into Spain. “We have strong competition with low-


cost carriers, although we do very well with the cost structure of [short-haul airline] Iberia Express,” Gallego says. He adds that Iberia Express is doing well and there are no plans to change the model. Likewise, Iberia’s franchise agreement


with regional airline Air Nostrum is running along nicely. “We are happy. We have a long relationship; we’ve been working together for 20 years. Now they are flying fewer aircraft, but it is still the same quality.” Another area where competition is hotting up is in the long-haul, low-cost arena. IAG hopes to address this through its new Barcelona-based airline, LEVEL, which launched on June 1 this year. “LEVEL is our response to what we


are seeing in the market,” Gallego says. “Several companies have started providing services, capturing part of the market. We consider that the [IAG] group has to be there and we [Iberia] wanted to help launch LEVEL in Barcelona.” The new brand has two Airbus A330- 200s in a two-class configuration serving Buenos Aires in Argentina, the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana, Los Angeles and San Francisco Oakland. Around the time of the launch, IAG said it planned to


w routesonline.com ROUTES NEWS 2017 ISSUE 5 43


Premium ecomomy has been rolled out on long-haul routes including Miami


product includes a more generous luggage allowance, wider seats, extra leg room, a better seat-recline angle and a personal 12-inch inflight entertainment (IFE) screen. Other perks include improved meal selections, an in-flight amenity bag and noise-cancelling earphones. The new cabins were rolled out on flights from Madrid to Bogota (Colombia), Chicago and New York in May, followed by Mexico in June, Miami in July and Boston in August. “It is working very well on our markets to the US, Colombia and Mexico,” Iberia CEO Luis Gallego says. During 2017 and 2018, the new cabin layout will be installed on eight Airbus A330-300s (21 premium economy seats) and on 13 irbus A340-600s (23 premium economy seats). This summer, the airline was slated to be operating five premium economy-equipped A340-600s. Iberia’s 16 Airbus A350-900s,


scheduled to be delivered after 2018, will come line-fitted with the new seats. This will take Iberia’s total premium economy-equipped fleet to 37 long-haul aircraft.


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