July Recovery? Iberia Expects 60% Of Pre-Pandemic Demand

Citing ‘enormous pent-up demand’, Iberia is planning for an increase to 60% of pre-pandemic capacity in July. Reintroducing flights to 18 Latin American capitals and adding new routes to its network, the airline will serve more destinations than ever this summer. Embarking on a four-year plan called ‘Next Chapter’, it is also looking to increase connectivity with Asia through its Madrid T4 hub.

Iberia A350
Iberia has scheduled for an increase in flights over the coming two months. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Currently operating at 40%

The Spanish flag carrier and IAG airline Iberia is confident in its capacity trajectory. On Thursday, the airline presented its ‘Next Chapter’ plan at Madrid’s FITUR tourism trade fair. During the event, the carrier’s Commercial Director, Maria Jesus Lopez Solas, said she expects capacity to increase from its current 40% of pre-pandemic levels to 50% in June, and to hit 60% in July.

“There’s enormous pent-up demand: as soon as restrictions are lifted, we see bookings start pouring through,” Lopez Solas said as reported by Reuters.

Furthermore, the carrier has scheduled flights to 18 Latin American capitals from June. All in all, Iberia intends to serve a record 114 destinations over the summer season. This includes three new ones – Ljubljana, the Maldives, and Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Iberia’s CEO Javier Sanchez Prieto said Spain needed to open up to the rest of the world, especially Latin America, after over a year of severe restrictions.

Iberia Airbus A350-941 EC-NCX
Iberia will fly to more destinations than ever this summer. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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The four pillars of the next four years

Iberia’s four-year plan, entitled ‘Next Chapter’, is built around four pillars: customers, its Madrid hub, sustainability, and employees. With customers, it is all about re-establishing trust and confidence in travel, the airline says. It hopes to build a reputation as an ultra-safe COVID airline.

For its hub at Terminal 4 of Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport, Iberia is looking to recover connectivity and reposition itself as one of Europe’s strongest connection points to Asia. A new focus will lie with cargo operations as well as train connectivity through the new AVE high-speed rail link at the airport.

Iberia has cut its atmospheric CO2 emissions by 15% per passenger over the past ten years and intends to cut another 10% by 2025. However, the airline is strongly opposed to environmental taxes proposed by the Spanish government to access EU recovery funds, which it says penalizes the entire value chain.

For the pillar of ’employees’, the airline simply states that staff have proven their loyalty and adaptability over the past year and that additional training will be held to ‘prepare them to act as genuine ambassadors for Iberia.

July Recovery? Iberia Expects 60% Of Pre-Pandemic Demand
Iberia’s CEO says he hopes IAG’s acquisition of Air Europa won’t lead to layoffs. Photo: Getty Images.’

Hoping to keep everyone on when Air Europa joins

Speaking at yesterday’s trade fair, the Iberia CEO also commented on the ongoing deal for IAG to acquire Air Europa, Spain’s third-largest airline. With a price tag that has been reduced to €500 million ($611 million), a mere half of what was initially agreed, the purchase is set to go through in the second half of 2021.

When asked whether or not the acquisition could lead to layoffs as all of Spain’s three largest carriers are gathered under one umbrella, Sanchez Prieto responded,

“We’ll see – the final vision is that no-one be in excess, and for now, we’re competitors, growing in parallel.”

What do you think of Iberia’s summer plans? And what will its ‘next chapter’ look like? Leave a comment below and let us know.