MADRID -- Spanish carrier Iberia, the only foreign airline with a
U.S. hub (in Miami), plans to expand its transatlantic capacity and
replace its long-haul fleet this year when it moves to a two-class
The airline, which offers two flights daily from Miami and one
each from Chicago and New York, will boost service from the U.S. by
13% in 2004, said Jose Alvarado, Iberia's general manager in
That will continue a recovery trend begun last year, when Iberia
increased capacity from Miami and New York and still saw load
factors from the U.S. rise; in fact, in August, the carrier
recorded its highest overall load factors ever.
"We're going to end up something like only 3% down compared with
2002, so we're doing fairly well in the U.S.," Alvarado said. "This
wasn't one of our best years, but it wasn't tragic."
Iberia posted a $139 million profit in the third quarter, down
"only" 13% from 2002, he added.
"And we foresee a profit for 2003, in a year [in which] everyone
else has seen negative numbers," Alvarado said.
Iberia, which has turned a profit the last six years -- a feat
Alvarado attributes to aggressive cost-cutting and market
maneuverability -- hopes to increase savings by replacing older,
gas-guzzling 747 jumbos with Airbus A340-300s and 600s on long-haul
Clients flying Iberia to Spain can expect more entertainment
options: Alvarado said business- and first-class passengers will
have up to 17 video channels as well as e-mail and text messaging.
Sometime in 2004, the two front cabins will merge into one
"business-first" class, featuring roomier, flat sleeper seats and
enhanced in-flight amenities.
At the same time, Iberia is experimenting with inflight service
changes, such as paid meals, on European routes also served by
From its hub in Miami, Iberia offers flights to Cancun, Mexico;
El Salvador; Guatemala; Nicaragua; Costa Rica; Panama; and
Thanks to "fifth-freedom" rights, Iberia can sell seats to U.S.
clients on all Central American flights, with the exception of
Cancun and El Salvador.
Alvarado said Iberia is still "very committed" to working with
U.S. travel agencies, through which it receives some 80% of its
U.S. bookings. To wit, Iberia will continue the agent incentive
plan it introduced last January following the move to zero
Interested retailers must send their agency information and IATA
number by e-mail to [email protected] or by fax to (305) 262-6480.
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].