Air Europa will become a part of the IAG Group of airlines, including Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and more, in a blockbuster €1 billion cash sale of the Spanish airline. The move is a major play toward grabbing marketshare for Iberia and IAG in Madrid, where the national carrier has below average slot control, versus airlines like British Airways at Heathrow, or Lufthansa at Frankfurt. Though the brands will be maintained in the interim, Iberia will grow by a whopping 50% when the sale completes…

Spanish newspaper El Espanol reports that the deal will close in the second half of 2020, and in the interim, the airlines will compete as normal. The announcement is a huge shake up to the status quo in Europe, with Air Europa presently featuring as a key SkyTeam alliance airline. There’s virtually no chance that will remain the case once the sale completes, thus turning Madrid into a Oneworld dominated city, and another airline on the Avios loyalty currency.

If it all sounds a bit unclear, here’s a clip from the IAG press release…

“The company will remain as a standalone profit centre within Iberia run by Iberia CEO Luis Gallego. Commercial links will be formed between Air Europa and other IAG operating companies, in addition to inclusion into IAG’s joint businesses”

According to IAG growth charts, Air Europa will help the group transport more than 12 million more passengers by 2024, with at least 10 new destinations and 35 new planes added to the Iberia family. One thing is for certain: Iberia is looking to gain stronger footing in Latin America, as well as growing operations in Asia. Increased codeshares across the IAG network and schedule adjustments to create better timings for connecting flow will do tremendous credit to that effort.

With more slots at Madrid, which is one of the fastest growing airports by passenger traffic, Iberia and IAG will indeed establish a commanding role in the South Atlantic, in addition to picking up extra connecting traffic in Europe.

IAG sees this as an opportunity to transform Madrid into a proper Euro hub, along the lines of Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or London Heathrow. Iberia will 100% become an Avios currency user, which has intriguing impacts for the Spanish and European markets at large.

At this point, it’s not entirely clear how the join operations will share synergies and work as one, while maintaining each brand identity, but they’ve got a year to make that clearer. Perhaps something like an Iberia Express? Either way, this is huge news for European air travel…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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5 Comments

  1. This is not good news for the connectivity in my country. We have only 2 carriers flying straight to Europe UX and IB and they obviously compete with prices and offers and of course we have twice frequencies. I guess that will change.

  2. Awesome news! Finally some good news for ONEWORLD. This will really help Iberia with growth, connectivity and in competition with AF, LH, KL and LX

  3. In terms of competition it is a blow. For miles and points users a welcomed addition. For example is Madrid to Recife a sub-4000 miles flight, which should mean that you would be able to book it for only 13k Avios through BA’s award chart, similar to the sweet spot from Chicago to Dublin on Aer Lingus, where BA doesn’t even pass on the YQ surcharge from Aer Lingus. Possibly also only 34k in business on off-peak days using IB’s award chart.

  4. Competition laws might halt this one, but if WW can pull it off I’m sure he will.
    The one other same hub acquisition I can thank of is BA/BMI and they managed to push that through even though it creates a domestic dominance in the UK for BA. Who know what will happen 🤷‍♂️

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