International Airlines Group has announced it has ordered 6 Airbus A321XLR aircraft for Aer Lingus and 8 aircraft for Iberia.
The first aircraft will be delivered from 2023. The group has also secured options for a further 14 aircraft, which could be used by any airline in the group.
This is a clear vote of confidence by IAG in the Airbus A321XLR aircraft.
IAG is now doubt attracted by is efficiency and commonality with the Airbus A320 series. It is noteworthy that IAG is keen to emphasise it will offer the same passenger comforts as existing wide body aircraft.
For both Aer Lingus and Iberia, IAG emphasise that the aircraft will be used to facilitate transatlantic expansion.
Update January 2018: This route, which currently operates on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday is suspended from Saturday 24 March 2018. Iberia’s sister airline Vueling will continue to fly from London Gatwick to Asturias three times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It is also possible to fly to Asturias from London Heathrow indirectly via Madrid.
The parent company of British Airways and Iberia, International Airlines Group, has today announced that British Airways and Iberia are to launch a joint-business with LAN and TAM Airlines on flights between Europe and South America.
LAN and TAM Airlines, which have hubs in Chile and São Paulo are owned by LATAM Airlines Group and are due to merge their operations under a single brand, LATAM.
The launch of the joint business will be subject to regulatory approval which, if granted, will allow the four airlines to co-ordinate routes, schedules, pricing and marketing of flights between Europe and South America.
Passengers will also benefit from reciprocal recognition of airline frequent flyer benefits (though that already happens to an extent as all airlines are members of the Oneworld alliance) and easier access to codeshare flights on the airlines’ respective local & regional networks.
The joint business is likely to operate on a similar basis as the current joint-venture between British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines on flights between Europe & North America.
Currently, the four airlines operate up to 45 flights a day between Europe and South America.
LAN & TAM currently have a small presence on London which TAM operating a flight to São Paulo.
However, the launch of the joint-business could prompt British Airways to extend its presence in South America beyond São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Lima.
We would speculate that the launch of a direct route from London Heathrow to Santiago is a good possibility after the launch of the joint-business.
LAN and TAM have a much larger presence in Europe at Madrid airport and more new routes from Madrid to secondary cities in South America are also a possibility.
Regulatory approval for the joint business is expected to take 12-18 months and the joint business should launch in stages shortly after regulatory approval is granted.
Cutrently, it is not proposed that fellow members of International Airlines Group, Aer Lingus and Vueling, will join the joint-venture.
International Airlines Group has today confirmed that WiFi will be rolled out across the short-haul and long-haul aircraft of its airlines: Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.
To date, IAG airlines have adopted a piecemeal approach to WiFi. BA has WiFi on just one Boeing 747. Aer Lingus has WiFi on its transatlantic Airbus A330s. Iberia and Vueling also have WiFi on some aircraft.
On short-haul aircraft IAG is expected to adopt an Inmarsat “Air To Ground” system which should deliver fast internet access speeds. The first aircraft will be in service by 2017.
On long-haul aircraft, new deliveries of Airbus A330 (to Aer Lingus & Iberia), Airbus A350 (to British Airways and Iberia) and Boeing 787-10 (to British Airways) are expected to be fitted with WiFi.
IAG will also aim to retrofit 100 long-haul aircraft (primarily British Airways aircraft) with WiFi. IAG will target rolling out WiFi to 90% of long-haul aircraft by 2019.
The fit-out of WiFi on long-haul aircraft is likely to be subject to IAG being satisfied that the technology is sufficiently robust for the global long-haul networks of BA and Iberia and the cost of retrofitting aircraft makes the investment worthwhile
IAG has not yet indicated what pricing model it will adopt for WiFi, which is likely to vary by airline.
As well as providing passengers with in flight internet access and the opportunity for new In Flight Entertainment services, it will be interesting to see what customer service initiatives will arise as consequence of equipping cabin crews will in flight internet access.
Iberia is to examine opening new routes (and in some cases re-instating routes) to Tokyo, Doha, Johannesburg, Toronto, Guadalajara (Mexico), Managua (Nicaragua), San Juan de Puerto Rico, Brasilia and Asuncion (Paraguay) the airline announced today, 31 July 2015.
The routes are likely to launch in 2016 and 2017 and are subject to its parent company, International Airlines Group, placing orders for additional aircraft, including five Airbus 330-200 aircraft, with Airbus.
IAG also hopes to order a further eight Airbus A350-900 aircraft as a replacement for Iberia’s existing fleet. An announcement could be made as early as next week.
That said, it has to be said it is somewhat unusual for an airline to announce a possible order for aircraft in advance of it being finalised.
Nor do airlines normally give away much with regard to future route launches, for obvious competitive reasons (though negotiations with airports on landing fees could be a factor).
Of the routes mentioned Doha and Tokyo are noteworthy as these would be the airline’s only routes to the Middle East and Asia and would be the airline’s first step in making Madrid a global (rather than purely west bound) long-haul hub. We assume they would be supported by code shares with fellow Oneworld alliance partners Qatar Airways and Japan Airlines.
It is noteworthy that Hong Kong and Singapore are not listed, particularly Hong Kong as it is the hub of fellow alliance partner Cathay Pacific.
The launch of more routes to Central and South America also cements Iberia’s position in this market. We are surprised not to see more North American destinations, but these are of course well served by British Airways.