Iberia Airlines logoIberia Líneas Aéreas de España, S.A. is the flag carrier airline of Spain. Based in Chamartín, Madrid, it operates an international network of services from its main bases of Madrid-Barajas Airport and Barcelona El Prat Airport.
Iberia, with Iberia Regional (operated by an independent carrier Air Nostrum), is a part of Iberia Group. In addition to transporting passengers and freight, Iberia Group carries out related activities, such as aircraft maintenance, handling in airports, IT systems and in-flight catering. Iberia Group airlines fly to over 102 destinations in 39 countries. Via code-sharing arrangements with other companies, it offers flights to another 90 destinations.
On 12 November 2009, Iberia confirmed that it had reached a preliminary agreement to merge with British Airways. The merger between the two carriers will create the world's third-largest airline in terms of revenue On 8 April 2010, it was confirmed that British Airways and Iberia had signed an agreement to merge, making the combined operation the third largest commercial airline in the world by revenue. The newly merged company will be known as International Airlines Group, although both airlines will continue to operate under their current brands. Both airlines are expected to complete their merger in January 2011. On November 29, 2010, shareholders from both carriers approved the merger.
Iberia, Compañía Aérea de Transportes was incorporated on 28 June 1927 with a capital investment by the financier Horacio Echeberrieta and Lufthansa of 1.1 million pesetas. Flight operations started on 14 December 1927. Within a year, the company was sponsored by the Spanish government to provide postal transport between Madrid and Barcelona. During the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, the aviation companies in Spain were combined and became state-controlled as a general interest public utility, coming into effect in early 1928. As a consequence, Iberia was merged into Compañía de Líneas Aéreas Subvencionadas S.A. (C.L.A.S.S.A.) and ceased activities on 29 May 1929. The name "Iberia" continued to be registered by Director-General Daniel de Araoz y Aréjula. As the name "Iberia" was still registered, it was used when operations began in nationalist-held territory towards the end of the Spanish Civil War. Following the Civil War, it became a purely domestic airline.
The airline was nationalised on 30 September 1944 and became part of INI. In 1946, it was the first airline to fly between Europe and South America after WWII, using a Douglas DC-4 flying from Madrid to Buenos Aires. By the Pact of Madrid in 1953, visa requirements were eliminated for US visitors to Spain. This stimulated the start of transatlantic flights between Spain and United States the following year. In addition, the amendments made in Montreal to the Convention on International Civil Aviation on 14 June 1954 were liberal to Spain, allowing mass tourism using charter planes.
Airbus A319 in retro colour scheme.
By the time of its 50th anniversary in 1981, the Boeing 747 airline carried over 10 million passengers in a year for the first time. In the late 1980s/early 1990s, Iberia also began to build up interests in other Spanish airlines – Aviaco, Viva Air, Binter Canarias and Binter Mediterraneo and Latin American airlines – Aerolíneas Argentinas, Viasa and Ladeco..
In 1987 Iberia together with Lufthansa, Air France and SAS founded Amadeus, an IT company (also known as a GDS) that would enable travel agencies to sell the founders and other airlines' products from a single system.
During 2001 Iberia was privatised and shares were listed on stock exchanges. By 2002, when Iberia celebrated its 75th anniversary, nearly 500 million people had flown with them.
On 5 February 2006 the new Terminal 4 at Madrid Barajas was given over to Iberia and the Oneworld alliance members. This provided much-needed expansion capabilities for Iberia. Iberia is responsible for around 60% of the airport's traffic. In 2005 the airline and its regional branch Air Nostrum transported 21,619,041 passengers to/from Barajas.