One of the few reliable pleasures of short-haul travel is flying on a wide-body aircraft, instead of the workhorse of aviation in Europe, the Airbus A320 series.
Before Coronavirus brought aviation to halt, BA and Iberia operated wide-body aircraft daily between London Heathrow and Madrid, primarily for the benefit of shipping cargo. As did Finnair between London Heathrow and Helsinki.
As airlines reduced their passenger flight schedules to skeleton services, these flights were replaced with Airbus A320 series aircraft.
In a small sign of services returning to normal, Iberia will operate Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft between London Heathrow Terminal 5 and Madrid from Sunday 14 June 2020.
This is primarily for the benefit of cargo and travel restrictions for passengers arriving in both Spain and the UK remain.
BA and Iberia have long operated a joint schedule between London Heathrow and Madrid with the two airlines codesharing on each other’s flights.
Normally, when two airlines codeshare on a flight there is a “prime” flight number for the airline operating the flight. There is also a codeshare flight number for the codeshare partner that is merely selling another airline’s flight.
Airlines apply distinctly separate flight number sequences for their own flights and codeshare flights. On most occasions, the rules of the operating airline apply regarding seat selection, luggage fees etc.
BA & Iberia London Heathrow – Madrid Codeshare
Shortly after the merger of BA and Iberia in 2011, it was decided that Iberia would move into London Heathrow Terminal 5 to maximise connectivity between the two airline’s respective hubs.
However, there was a complication in that until then BA was the sole tenant of Terminal 5 and all of the systems and processes had been designed for BA’s operations.
A consequence of this was that flights from London Heathrow to Madrid operated by Iberia were treated by BA as its own flights and given a BA “prime” flight number.
This weekend sees the start of the new summer timetable at London Heathrow. There are a few changes including the launch of scheduled services by BA to New Orleans, Virgin Atlantic taking over Seattle from Delta, Flybe launching Aberdeen and Edinburgh and BA launching summer seasonal routes to Murcia, Nantes and Tallin with many more routes to follow later in the summer.
One other change is that BA is now flying a Boeing 777 daily between London Heathrow and Madrid, a route exclusively operated by BA and Iberia.
Shortly after the merger of BA and Iberia under the umbrella of International Airlines Group in 2011 the two airlines put wide body aircraft on the route. BA operates a Boeing 767 on flights BA456 and BA457. Iberia operates its Airbus A340 on flights BA522 and IB3166/BA7058. The principal reason for this is not necessarily passenger demand, but the cargo capacity in the belly of the aircraft.
From today, Sunday 26 March 2017, BA will also operate a Boeing 777 on this route. Flight BA458 which departs London Heathrow at 07:20 and flight BA459 which departs Madrid at 12:20 will be operated by a Boeing 777.
British Airways is to suspend its twice daily London City – Madrid route permanently from Sunday 29 January 2017. The airline is to also not proceed with its planned seasonal London City – Alicante service this summer. This was planned to operate from Monday 26 June to Monday 4 September 2017.
No specific reasons have been given for the cancellation. However, it’s a reasonable assumption that poor commercial performance is the cause. BA has yet to announce which routes will operate in their replacement.
Affected passengers have the option of a refund or being accommodated on alternative BA flights to Madrid from London Heathrow (served by some 13 return flights a day) or Alicante from London Gatwick respectively (which operates up to twice daily at various times).
If you have not already been contacted you should contact either BA or your traval agent.
This post is perhaps for students of aviation rather than the travelling public at large, but it is something worth noting in any event.
We have written much in recent years about British Airways’ International Airlines Group (“IAG”) sibling Iberia, and the wildly divergent financial performance of the two airlines since the formation of IAG four years ago in 2011.
Since Iberia started to report very heavy losses in 2012, IAG has taken a number of steps to improve the performance of Iberia.
This has included a complete overhaul of its senior management by a new CEO and (after bitter and unedifying industrial action with some rather unpleasant anti-British sentiment) reaching new collective agreements with its pilots and other staff working groups.
Ever since the marriage of BA and Iberia a little under four years ago, we have often wondered why Iberia has not taken advantage of BA’s distribution and marketing to operate more flights from UK airports to its Madrid hub.
There have been short-lived flights from Glasgow to Madrid, but little more. Now, as part of a significant expansion of Iberia’s short-haul network (which includes the launch of flights from Manchester and Edinburgh to Madrid), Iberia is to launch twice daily flights from London Gatwick to Madrid from Sunday 29 March 2015.