What Happened To Volotea’s Gibraltar – Bilbao Flight Plans?

In late March, Simple Flying reported that Volotea planned to launch direct flights between Gibraltar and Bilbao in Spain. Today, all trace of the route has disappeared from airport and airline websites, but what happened to the route?

Volotea Airbus A319 Verona
All traces of Volotea’s new link between Gibraltar and Spain appear to have vanished. Photo: Getty Images

Except for a currently suspended connection between Gibraltar and Morocco, Gibraltar’s Airport is exclusively served by British carriers from British Airports. At one point, the airport did have a direct link with Madrid, thanks to Iberia, but this didn’t last. Now, an attempt to reconnect Gibraltar and Spain by air seems to have failed.

All traces gone

It seems as though all traces of the new route between Gibraltar and Bilbao have been erased from existence. Firstly, a press release announcing the launch of the route on Gibraltar Airport’s website is no longer available to view.

Volotea Airbus A319
The new bi-weekly route had been set to launch in early July. Photo: Volotea

The situation seems similar on the Volotea website. At the time of the announcement, it was possible to search for flights to and from Gibraltar in the airline’s search engine. Today, Gibraltar and its three-letter code GIB both don’t even show up as a valid airport, let alone allowing a search for flights. Commenting on the matter, a Volotea spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“Volotea announced a new connection between Bilbao and Gibraltar for July 2 in the confidence that by that date, the necessary government authorization to operate this route would have already been published. As it seems that this permit will not be certain by this date, it has been chosen to take it off from sale.”

What was the plan?

Regional carrier Volotea had planned to launch a direct, non-stop air connection between Spain and Gibraltar. Set to launch on July 2nd, the route would’ve seen a round trip from Bilbao twice a week. Until September, the airline would have aimed to offer 8,200 seats on the route with its Airbus A319 aircraft.

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The route would’ve been the first regularly scheduled connection between Spain and Gibraltar since Iberia withdrew its connection from Madrid in 2008. This, itself, had been launched in December 2006. According to FlightGlobal, it seems as though Iberia decided to withdraw from Gibraltar.

Gibraltar, Airlines, British Airways
Spain’s Iberia flew to Gibraltar for around two years from late 2006. Photo: Getty Images

In the case of Volotea, it seems as though the airline is struggling to gain the necessary permission to launch the route. According to The Guardian, Gibraltar is set to become a part of the Schengen Zone. This would remove the border between the city and Spain.

Additionally, Gibraltar would be able to benefit from EU programs and policies, with Spain being its guarantor. Perhaps this could one day lead to the establishment of scheduled services between Gibraltar and Spain once more.

What do you make of the supposed cancellation of the Volotea route between Gibraltar and Bilbao? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below.