IAG plans low-cost flights from Spain to Latin America, US and Asia in 2017

Iberia and BA planes at Heathrow

Airline plans to use Barcelona as a base and is considering setting up new carrier for the venture

IAG, the group made up of Iberia, Air Lingus, Vueling and British Airways, says it will begin operating low-cost flights out of Barcelona to the United States, Latin America and Asia from June 2017. “Barcelona has become an important airport hub,” said a company spokesman, adding that it believes there is significant demand for “these new-generation long-haul flights.”

IAG says it is considering two options for new its long-haul routes: to create a new airline, or to pool IAG’s existing resources. “We have not taken a final decision yet,” said company sources.

The firm has chosen Barcelona as its hub for this new business segment because this is where its low-cost carrier Vueling is based, and this will allow it to funnel passengers from its extensive European network on to long-haul flights. IAG will use two Airbus A330s, and says the initiative will create 250 jobs.

Among the destinations IAG is looking at are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Havana, and Tokyo. “This new operation will add a new dimension to IAG and complement the other airlines in the group,” say company sources.

The company has chosen Barcelona because this is where its low-cost carrier Vueling is based

Industry experts say that Vueling is unlikely to be used to operate the routes. Iberia – which has undergone extensive restructuring since the creation of IAG in 2011 to cut costs, involving routes being cut, staff lay offs and salaries reduced – has always been wary of discussing low-cost long-haul routes.

IAG’s initiative seems aimed at challenging Norwegian, which has already announced that from June 2017 it will operate low-cost routes from Barcelona to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark and Fort Lauderdale.

Published ElPais 24 December 2016

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