Iberia Celebrates 40 Years Of Airbus Operations

Today marks four decades since the Spanish flag carrier Iberia began to operate Airbus aircraft. Exactly 40 years ago, the airline’s first Airbus A300 arrived in Madrid. As they say, the rest is history, with the airline having operated aircraft from the Airbus family ever since, currently running an all-Airbus fleet.

Iberia, Airbus Aircraft, 40 years
40 years ago, Iberia’s first Airbus aircraft arrived in Madrid for the first time. Photo: Iberia

In 2016 Boeing celebrated 100 years of building aircraft. This was followed by Airbus’ 50th anniversary three years later. Most of the time that Airbus has been producing aircraft, Iberia has been a customer of the airline. This is set to continue, with the airline operating the European manufacturer’s latest aircraft.

It started with an Airbus A300

The Iberia Airbus relationship started back in 1981. On March 18th, the Spanish flag carrier christened its first Airbus A300. The aircraft was named Doñana and was registered as EC-DLE. According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft took its first flight on January 13th, of that year, before being delivered to the airline on January 27th. Its first flight was to Paris’ Orly Airport on March 29th.

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Doñana only ever flew for Iberia, lasting just 12 years before the airline withdrew it from service in January 1993. At the age of 19, the aircraft was scrapped in Madrid in the year 2000. In total, the airline operated nine A300s, eight of which it owned. The last was leased from TransAer International Airlines.

Iberia, Airbus Aircraft, 40 years
Iberia retired its remaining Airbus A340 aircraft as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Most of the Airbus family operated

Iberia has operated at least one aircraft from most of the Airbus aircraft families. The airline didn’t operate the A310 or A380. However, the Spanish flag carrier has flown the,

  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Airbus A320neo
  • Airbus A321-200
  • Airbus A330-200
  • Airbus A330-300
  • Airbus A340-300
  • Airbus A340-600
  • Airbus A350-900

According to Planespotters.net, Iberia has operated Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft before, with almost 400 aircraft having been in the fleet at some point. However, today the airline only operates Airbus aircraft with 69 current aircraft, according to the publication. The airline retired its remaining Airbus A340 aircraft due to the pandemic, meaning that its average fleet age currently sits at under ten years old.

What’s next for Iberia?

The Spanish airline is maintaining its all-Airbus philosophy moving into the future as things currently stand. The airline is already operating the manufacturer’s latest-generation jets, the Airbus A320neo and A350.

Iberia, Airbus Aircraft, 40 years
Iberia is set to take delivery of its first Airbus A321XLR in 2023. Photo: Airbus

However, the Spanish carrier will also be one of the launch customers for the Airbus A321XLR, with deliveries starting in 2023. The aircraft will be Iberia’s first narrowbody that can fly beyond the east coast of North America. The airline intends to use the aircraft to expand into new transatlantic destinations while also increasing frequencies in key markets.

What’s your favorite memory of flying on an Iberia Airbus aircraft? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!