5 July 2004
MADRID — High security costs have forced the Spanish airline Iberia to abandon Miami as its regional hub for flights to central America, the airline said Monday.
Iberia, the market leader on routes between Europe and Latin America, said it will restructure its operations to central America from the beginning of October. It will develop more direct routes from Madrid.
Security measures imposed following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks meant that “a change of planes that used to take half an hour now takes three hours,” pushing Miami operations into deficit, an Iberia spokesman said.
Security costs had increased “tremendously”, and changing planes has become much more complicated, in particular due to immigration regulations, the airline said.
“A Salvadorian who has a visa for Europe but not for the United States cannot go via Miami, not even just in transit,” the spokesman explained.
Iberia is to withdraw four Airbus A319 short-haul aircraft from Miami and will launch direct flights from Spain to Guatemala and Panama in a first step towards expanding direct services to the region.
It will also cut the number of flights from Madrid to Miami from two to one a day.
In place of its own hub in Miami, Iberia is expected to conclude a number of code-sharing deals for its transfer passengers with other regional carriers.
Apart from Guatemala and Panama, Iberia’s other five destinations in the region — San Jose in Costa Rica; Cancun, Mexico; San Salvador; San Pedro Sula in Honduras; and Managua in Nicaragua — will be served by the new code-share partners.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news