Iberia Crosses 75 Years Of Service To Latin America

Last week, Spanish national flag carrier Iberia celebrated 75 years of flights between Europe and Latin America. On September 22, 1946, an Iberia DC-4 left Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD) en-route to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 36-hour flight marked the first regularly scheduled flight between Europe and Latin America.

Iberia Airbus A350
Iberia started flying to Latin America in 1946. Photo: Iberia

The flight paved the way for what is now Iberia’s primary marketing strategy. Iberia plans to make Madrid Airport the gateway for South Americans traveling to Europe.

As World War II was ending in Europe, Iberia was busy planning its expansion to Spanish-speaking South America. With this in mind, in 1945, Iberia ordered three new DC-4 aircraft (Skymaster) for $ 400,000 each from the Douglas Aircraft Company. Onboard the first flight to South America were Iberia president, Jesús Rubio Paz, managing director, César Gómez Lucía, and the general director of Civil Aviation, Juan Bono. Accompanying them were Iberia maintenance technicians and several people from Spain’s Ministry of Commerce.

The flight to Buenos Aires took 36 hours

The complex journey required the aircraft to make several stops, the first being at Villa Cisneros in Western Sahara. From the African outpost, the plane then flew accross the Atlantic Ocean to Natal in Brazil. The next day the aircraft had to make an unscheduled stopover in Rio de Janeiro so that Brazilian authorities could clarify certain doubts regarding the flight. From Rio, the flight made a brief stop in Montevideo, Uruguay, before flying on to Morón Airport in Buenos Aires.

Iberia DC-4
Iberia started flying to Latin America in 1946. Photo: Iberia

To celebrate 75 years of flying to Latin America, Iberia has organized a special event at Madrid’s Casa de América cultural center. At the event will be representatives from the embassies of the region’s countries, the Madrid City council, and people from the world of Latin American culture and sports.

Iberia Crosses 75 Years Of Service To Latin America
The flight to Buenos Aires made four stops along the way. Image GCmaps

Iberia has also invited the following people who have a connection to both Spain and Latin America to speak at the event:

  • Jorge Drexler is an Uruguayan musician, actor, and doctor specializing in otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat doctor).
  • Natalia Verbeke is a Spanish actress who grew up in Argentina.
  • Esteban Roel is a Mexican film director and actor who has strong ties to Spain.
  • Ray Zapata is a Spanish Olympic gymnast who was born in the Dominican Republic.

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During the event, they will be invited to speak about their experience of living between two shores.

Iberia vaccines
During the pandemic, Iberia played a vital role in transporting vaccines to South America. Photo: Iberia

To open the CASA de America event, a trailer for the documentary film “Flying” will be premiered. Showcasing a song created to welcome Iberias’ first Airbus A350 and pay homage to Iberia employees, the movie will debut at Platinum Ibero-American Film Awards.

The film’s producer Javier Limón has visited several Latin American countries in addition to Spain, Portugal, and the United States to work with Michel Camillo, Alain Pérez, and Inma Cuesta, among others.

As people become vaccinated and start to travel again, Iberia plans to offer more than 200 non-stop flights a week to 17 destinations in 15 countries in the region.

What do you think of Iberia’s plan to make Madrid a European hub for South American flights? Please tell us what you think in the comments.