Iberia Express: Everything You Need To Know About The Subsidiary

Not to be confused with Air Nostrum, which operates as a franchisee of Iberia providing domestic flights within Spain, Iberia Express is a subsidiary of the Spanish national flag carrier. Based at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), Iberia Express is a Spanish low-cost airline owned by Iberia, which operates short- and medium-haul routes from its parent airline’s hub in the Spanish capital.

beria Express Airbus A321
Iberia Express is an LCC based in Madrid. Photo: Getty Images

Iberia’s owners, the International Airlines Group (IAG), came up with the idea of creating Iberia Express in 2011. The aim was to develop a low-cost branch of Iberia whose aircraft could feed Iberia’s long-haul network with flights from nearby destinations in Europe. The plan was to use the aircraft on unprofitable routes, hoping that the low-cost model could be more efficient.

Iberia had competition from low-cost airlines

When launching the new airline, Iberia and IAG said it is the only way to make the loss-making Spanish unit profitable. Faced with increasing competition from Ryanair and easyJet, IAG planned to operate the airline in a similar fashion.

When Iberia Express launched on March 25, 2012, it shared its principal office with Iberia in Madrid and had a fleet of four Airbus A320 aircraft. However, unique to Iberia Express was that it offered business class seating, something no other European LCC did.

Iberia pilots were not happy

As you can imagine, this did not go down well with the pilots already working for Iberia. In their minds, it was seen as a plot to replace them with lower-paid workers. In late December 2011, due to concerns over potential job losses caused by the creation of Iberia Express, the airline’s pilot union SEPLA called for a series of 30 one-day strikes.

For its part, SEPLA said it was willing to sit down with Iberia to discuss the situation and that it had a solution to the conflict. The pilots union proposed that it could save Iberia 90 million euros a year by lowering salaries for new employees.

Iberia Express routes
Iberia Express flies medium and short-haul routes in Europe from Madrid. Image Iberia Express

When speaking with news wire service Reuters about its plan, a spokesperson for SEPLA said:

“That is triple the amount that the company has said Iberia Express would save a year. The government is aware of that plan. We are ready to negotiate with whoever, but the company hasn’t called us for 20 days.”

At the time, SEPLA also called on Iberia to overhaul the salaries of its directors, which is perhaps why its proposal fell on deaf ears.

Iberia Express
Iberia Express is the number one carrier between Madrid and the Canary Islands. Photo: Iberia Express

After a series of one-day strikes estimated to cost Iberia €36 million ($42 million), SEPLA called off the strike in March 2012. The breakthrough came when SEPLA agreed to the Employment and Social Security Ministry providing a mediator.

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Iberia Express has a fleet of 19 aircraft

Almost ten years later, Iberia Express has grown to become the fourth leading airline at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD). Iberia Express is also the number one carrier between Madrid and the Canary Islands. According to the aviation data and statistics website, ch-aviation Iberia Express has a fleet of 19 aircraft comprising the following planes:

  • 11 x Airbus A320-200s
  • 4 x Airbus A321-200s
  • 4 x Airbus A321neos

Have you ever flown with Iberia Express? If so, please tell us what you think of them in the comments.