Summer Growth: Iberia Returns 29 Aircraft Into Service

Spanish flag carrier Iberia announced on Thursday it is bringing 29 narrowbodies out of storage and getting them ready to start flying in June. Furthermore, the airline’s maintenance facilities are busy returning passenger seats to three A330s converted for cargo during COVID.

Iberia A320
Iberia is bringing back 29 A320 family aircraft into service. Photo: Getty Images

Twenty-nine A320 family jets back in the sky

As COVID numbers continue to drop significantly across Europe, the continent’s airlines are beginning to discern hope on the summer season horizon. Yesterday, Iberia announced it is returning as many as 29 aircraft into service to support the carrier’s June flight resumptions to Croatia, Italy, and Portugal.

As all Iberia’s widebodies are already active, all of the planes being dusted and readied to fly again are narrowbody jets. The airline says it is bringing back 23 aircraft for Iberia and six for its Iberia Express brand, all from the Airbus A320 family.

The carrier’s MRO facility, Iberia Maintenance, will work for several days on each aircraft, performing all the required checks after over one year of mothballing. This includes engines, systems such as hydraulics, electrical or avionics, as well as elements such as brakes, wheels, and landing gear. Some aircraft will need to undergo heavy maintenance works.

During COVID, Iberia Maintenance has been responsible for overseeing the care of over 150 IAG and third-party customer aircraft at facilities in Madrid, Palma, Malaga, and Seville. Altogether, it is now getting 46 of those jets ready to return to active service.

The airline says that in order to meet increased demand, its maintenance department has developed an app called RTO.com, where operators can check availability and book overhaul slots for their aircraft.

Iberia A330
The IAG carrier is also reinstalling passenger seats in three of its A330 aircraft converted for cargo during the pandemic. Photo: Iberia

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Preighters no more

This is not the only aircraft maintenance reversal currently in progress at the airline’s La Muñoza facility. Iberia Maintenance is also engaged in returning three of the airline’s A330s for passenger duty. Like many others of their kind, the widebodies were turned over to cargo configurations during the pandemic.

However, their existence as ‘preighters’ has now come to an end, and Iberia is reinstalling passenger seats. The airline says it expects to need the A330s for scheduled service in the coming three weeks, in coherence with rescheduling flights to the US. The aircraft being brought back into service are also in line with Iberia’s planned ramp-up to 60% of capacity by July.

Iberia is on a four-year mission to turn Madrid into a major European hub. Photo: Getty Images

The IAG carrier recently unveiled its new four-year plan titled ‘Next Chapter’. This will see the airline focus on four pillars – rebuilding customer confidence, repositioning Terminal 4 at Madrid-Barajas as a major European hub, sustainability, and turning employees into brand ambassadors.

Do you think European aviation is through the worst of it now? Will we see aircraft return to the sky en masse? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

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