The plan calls for optimising the Spanish airline's route network in 2013, strengthening the most strategic and profitable routes, and dropping loss makers. Subsequently, it expects to resume growth if economic and market conditions allow, increasing revenues while cutting sales costs, to build a solid platform for future growth.
Iberia plans to improve connections to its busiest long-haul flights, achieve a better balance between business and holiday traffic, and augment its future growth possibilities. Within the Transformation Plan, it will boost services to some long haul destinations such as Brazil, Mexico, Miami, Central America and Chile and Ecuador. It will also increase capacity to some other short and medium-haul destinations, including London, Casablanca, Algiers, Dakar, Nouakchott, and Malabo.
The airline will drop some routes now dominated by holiday traffic, where it competes on unfavourable terms with other airlines. These include flights to Athens, Istanbul and Cairo, which will be suspended in mid-January. From 1st April it will also suspend flights to Santo Domingo and Havana. San Juan de Puerto Rico will be offered via Miami and Montevideo via other Iberia destinations in the region.
Iberia pledges to be flexible with customers holding reservations or tickets for flights on the routes to be dropped. It will offer full refunds or alternative travel on other carriers – on Vueling to Athens, Egyptair to Cairo, Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, and Air Europa to Santo Domingo and Havana.
Following these changes, Iberia group airlines will fly to more than 90 cities in some 40 countries, some of them new territories for Iberia, such as Ghana, Mauritania, Angola, and the city of Oran in Algeria and Los Angeles in California.
To generate new revenues and reduce costs, Iberia will offer all-new Economy and Business class sections on its long-haul flights. The new cabin interiors, seats, and entertainment options will be available on the current fleet of Airbus A340-600s, and the A330s to be delivered starting early next year. The company is also working to improve ground services, while seeking additional sources of revenue, such as the new VIP lounges in Miami and Buenos Aires.
Iberia's CEO Rafael Sánchez-Lozano explained that “Iberia is obliged to transform its commercial model, and this means focusing on routes that can help turn the company around - the profitable ones that still have some margin for future growth –, and these are our most strategic long-haul routes. The ones we are dropping are the biggest loss makers, where we have no chance of turning a profit under current conditions. Once we are able to restore competitiveness to the airline, we will carefully look at these routes to see if we can pick them up again.”