Hold onto your hats for Europe’s latest low cost airline, called Iberia Express.
Iberia, recently purchased by / which bought out [depends which politician you listen to] BA, has realised that the amount of money it’s losing on the internal flights it’s forced to run by Madrid is colossal. These are those lovely little flights such as the Almeria – Madrid daily return route, which sometimes has as many as 3 people on board.
Of course, in the old days these routes made sense. For example, a copper from every local Guardia Civil station used to have to fly up weekly to Madrid with all the local hotel checkin stubs locked in a suitcase attached to his wrist by a padlock. I’m sure there were a lot more similar ridiculous examples. Also, funcionarios generally got cheap flights, so used them a lot.
The internet and our new age of austerity causing all this nonsense to be binned by the government, the raison d´etre for these regional flights have declined, along with the passenger numbers.
The old way of hiding the losses was by setting up regional operators (Air Nostrum jumps to mind) which operated the flights and cooked the books with large subsidieries, grants, etc. Again, no longer viable.
Iberia can’t drop the routes or change the timetables. Some routes are government ordered (the puente aereos, as they’re known). With other routes, any attempt to change the rotas would lead to mass strikes, industrial action, local political upheaval, etc.
So now Iberia -no doubt prompted by the howls of fury from London financers- is setting up Iberia Express, a low cost airline which will take over all these routes. (Incidentally, Iberia Express will be the only european low cost airline with an economy and business class). Several planes along with staff will be diverted from Iberia to Iberia Express, which will also formally take over these routes. Iberia will handle the ground staff, initially.
And, hey, if in 24 / 48 months time “for reasons of economy” Iberia Express has to drop a few of these routes…. well, that’s not Iberia’s problem, is it?
Seriously, tho, the decline in passenger numbers, together with increased competition from the ever growing AVE high speed train network (another white elephant if ever there was one) means that Iberia’s regional routes are on their way out. Make the most of them, if you can find a flight for under 400€ (I haven’t, in years of searching).