Connecting Andorra: Inaugural Service Links Country With Madrid

On December 17th, Air Nostrum operated the inaugural flight of its service between Madrid Barajas and Andorra-La Seu (also known as Seo de Urgel Airport). The long-awaited service is part of a PSO (public service obligation) contract that will see the Iberia subsidiary fly twice weekly. Mountainous and landlocked, the small country of Andorra will now have more convenient access to air links to the rest of the world through these flights.

Andorra Air Nostrum ATR
The service is operated by an ATR72-600. Photo: Government of Andorra

Government VIPs in attendance for inaugural flight

Posting much of the experience to its Twitter account, the government of Andorra was elated to show off its new connection to the rest of the world. In attendance to kick-off the inaugural flight was Andorra’s Minister of the Presidency, Economy, and Enterprise, Jordi Gallardo, and Spain’s Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez. The two government representatives were able to hold a pre-flight bilateral meeting to discuss reinforcing good relations between the two countries.

 

As noted by the Andorran government, the flight is made possible through an agreement with Air Nostrum. This PSO provides a round-trip connection with the Spanish capital two days a week for at least one year.

“This is a long-awaited goal that will be beneficial for Andorra and the whole of the Pyrenees, both to attract tourists and to encourage business.” -Government of Andorra

Details of the first flight

Flying as Iberia Regional flight IB8326 but operated by Air Nostrum, the December 17th inaugural departed Madrid Barajas at 14:40 and landed at La Seu at 15:55.

With just 35 minutes on the ground, the aircraft completed its turnaround and departed a little behind schedule, at 17:14. While this was 24 minutes later than its scheduled departure time of 16:50, the flight still managed to land earlier than its scheduled 18:45 arrival time at Madrid, touching down at 18:25.

The ATR72 that operated this particular service was a -600 registered as EC-LRR. Fitted with an all-economy layout of 72 seats, this turboprop is nearly 10 years old and was delivered to Air Nostrum in June of 2012.

inaugural flight
The duration of the flight is just over an hour. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Andorra’s connection to the world

As we noted in a previous article, Andorra is landlocked between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains, and has the unfortunate title of “largest country in the world without an airport.” 

While resources were committed to studying the feasibility of building an airport within the borders of Andorra, studies concluded that there were too many technical and safety factors hindering this project.

As a result of its challenging terrain, accessing “the outside world” and getting to and from the country would have required a roughly two and a half-hour drive from the airports in Barcelona or Toulouse- most certainly a barrier to tourists hoping for a short trip. Of course, this new Air Nostrum service changes everything, with La Seu being a relatively short 30-40 minute drive from the capital and main town of Andorra la Vella.

The Prime Minister of Andorra, Xavier Espot Zamora, predicts that this link, along with critical public and private investment, will become “a true backbone of economic activity and will become a new gateway for visitors, residents, and companies.” 

With Air Nostrum being an Iberia subsidiary, oneworld flights further afield can be booked on a single itinerary, with a single stop in Madrid. Madrid Barajas itself offers direct access to numerous major cities around the world, including Seoul and Hanoi in Asia, Los Angeles and Santiago in the Americas. Naturally, the Spanish airport also has dozens of connections to European cities.

Are you more likely to visit Andorra with this service? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

10 Shares: