Europe’s 6th Most Populous Country: A Look At Spain’s Top 5 Airlines

With a population of just under 47 million people, Spain is the sixth most populous nation in Europe. With that in mind, and the fact that Spain is the second most visited tourist destination globally, it has some sizeable airlines in service. These are the biggest today.

Iberia Airbus A350
With its red and yellow livery, Iberia is the national flag carrier of Spain. Photo: Iberia

Iberia is the most easily recognizable of all Spanish airlines, thanks to its Spanish flag livery colors. While Iberia might be the national flag carrier and the airline representing Spain globally, it is not the largest Spanish airline. Somewhat surprisingly, that title goes to a fellow International Airlines Group (IAG)-owned airline called Vueling.

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1. Vueling – 127 airplanes

vueling to receive state-guaranteed funding
Vueling’s main hub is in Barcelona. Photo: Getty Images

Vueling is a play on words that mixes the Spanish word for flight “vuelo” and the English suffix “ing.” Based at Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN) and a hub at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) in Rome, Italy, Vueling is the largest Spanish airline by fleet size and destinations served. Today Vueling flies to 122 destinations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. According to ch-aviation, Vuelings all-Airbus fleet is made up of the following aircraft:

  • 6 x Airbus A319-100
  • 77 x Airbus A320-200
  • 25 x Airbus A320-200neo
  • 18 x Airbus A321-200
  • 1 x Airbus A330-300

2. Iberia – 91 airplanes

Despite not having as many planes as Vueling, Iberia is Spain’s national airline. Founded in 1927, Iberia is today the world leader in connecting Latin America with Europe. With its central hub at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), Iberia flies to 134 destinations in Europe, America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The airline’s connectivity between Europe and South and Central America plays a central role in Iberia’s network and planning. According to ch-aviation, Iberia’s current fleet is made up of the following aircraft:

  • 4 x Airbus A319-100
  • 25 x Airbus A320-200
  • 8 x Airbus A320neo
  • 15 x Airbus A321-200
  • 4 x Airbus A321neo
  • 18 x Airbus A330-200
  • 8 x Airbus A330-300
  • 9 x Airbus A350-900

3. Air Nostrum – 46 airplanes

Air Nostrum ATR-72 Getty
Air Nostrum is based in Valencia. Photo: Getty Images

Founded in 1994, the goal of Air Nostrum Lineas Aereas del Mediterraneo (Air Nostrum Mediterranean Airlines) was to become a southern European regional airline. Founded and based at Valencia Airport (VLC), Air Nostrum operates as part of the Iberia Group under the brand name of Iberia Regional Air Nostrum.

As well as providing public service flights to some of Spain’s less densely populated areas Air Nostrum is primarily a feeder airline for Iberia. From outside Europe almost exclusively except for some seasonal flights, all non-European international flights land at either Barcelona or Madrid. From these two airports, Air Nostrum then provides flights to other cities and regions of Spain. According to ch-aviation Air Nostrums fleet is made up of the following aircraft:

  • 9 x ATR72-600
  • 24 x CRJ1000ER
  • 8 x CRJ200ER
  • 1 x CRJ200LR
  • 4 x CRJ900

4. Volotea – 35 airplanes

Volotea flies to underserved airports in Europe. Photo: Volotea

Created by former Vueling founders Carlos Muñoz and Lázaro Ros Volotea is a low-cost Spanish airline with bases in Spain, France, Greece, and Italy. Headquartered at Asturias Airport (OVD), the name Volotea is, just like Vueling, a play on words, except this time it was taken from the Spanish phrase revolotear, which means to fly around. Quite cleverly, Volotea operates flights between secondary airports with little or no competition. Volotea also offers flights to holiday destinations around the Mediterranean during the summer season. According to ch-aviation, Volotea’s fleet is made up of the following aircraft:

  • 20 x Airbus A319-100s
  • 15 x Airbus A320-200s

5. Air Europa – 35 airplanes

Air Europa Boeing 787-900 dreamliner
IAG originally offered 1€ billion to buy Air Europa. Photo: Getty Images

Headquartered in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Air Europa operates tour services to the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. From its central hub at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD), Air Europa offers flights to North America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the IAG Group, which also owns Iberia and Vueling, agreed to purchase Air Europa for 1€ billion. The plan was to use the airline to help Madrid compete with London, Frankfurt, and Paris. In January 2021, the buying price was halved to 500€ million and then scrapped entirely in November.

As things stand, there will not be any decisions made regarding the sale until the end of January 2022. According to ch-aviation, Air Europa’s fleet is made up of the following aircraft:

  • 2 x Airbus A330-200
  • 1 x Airbus A330-300
  • 14 x Boeing 737-800
  • 8 x Boeing 787-8
  • 10 x Boeing 787-9

What do you think about Spains airlines? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.