Iberia to extend wings to the far east

Going East!

Madrid- Spain may once again be connected with its long time colony in the far east as it embarks its broad plans to mount flights to its bustling capital Manila despite the global downturn, and could be its only connection in Asia.

The national airline of Spain, Lineas Aereas de Espana (Iberia) intends to introduce its sole long haul flight from Madrid to the far east on a thrice a week Airbus 340 service after the Philippines and Spain amended its 1951 treaty on air services recently upon request by Iberia Airlines.

The Philippines and Spain agreed to make 28 direct flights available for their respective airlines to serve weekly, with seven flights between Madrid and Manila and Barcelona and Manila. Low cost airport Manila-Clark also got 14 weekly flights to and from Madrid and Barcelona as representatives of both countries wrapped up bilateral air services negotiations in Madrid.

Fernando Conte, chairman of the Spanish flag carrier said that they are very much interested of flying to Manila soon as there are plenty of passengers on that sector based on the figures they have. Iberia has ticketing office already set up in the Philippines.

"There are more than 50,000 Filipino migrant workers in Spain and they are currently being serviced by gulf-based airlines and almost 30% of them go home every year to the Philippines and were trying to service the market and provide direct service flights for them "says Conte.

Angel Moratinos, the Foreign Minister of Spain, confirmed that the estimated 50,000 migrant Filipino workers in Spain are growing and unscathed despite the global financial crisis.

"Most Filipinos work in the service sector and live in the big Spanish cities of Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia" says Moratinos.

Meanwhile, a Philippine Airline representative says that they have no plans to fly to Spain but they are open to the idea of having a code-share deal with Iberia to promote tourism of the Philippines.

Manila was granted rights to service 200 tons of cargo per week while Clark got 300 tons per week. Both points of origin were allowed daily cargo flights to and from Spain.

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