Spanish operator this year will take five new -300s, one more than initially scheduled for 2013, as it seeks to achieve targets set by parent International Airlines Group (IAG) to reduce operating costs and improve revenues.
Under the plan, a further three A330s will be delivered in 2014.
IAG in July 2011 firmed the order for eight-80E1-powered A330-300s. The deal also included eight options.
The A330s will replace part of Iberia’s fleet of-300/600s. “The A330-300s have a 15% lower fuel compared to the A340-300s. The -300s were a great aircraft when we purchased them, but the high kerosene prices have made it very expensive to operate them,” Jaime Garcia Blazquez, manager of Corporate Responsibility and Environment at Iberia tells Aviation Week. He adds that the objective to further reduce carbon emissions also played a role in expediting the replacement process.
Aviation has been included in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) since Jan. 1, 2012 and a “Stop the Clock” procedure proposed by the European Commission in November has excluded extra-European flights from the scheme until after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) General Assembly in the fall.
The EU will reinstate the full scope of the aviation ETS if ICAO does not establish a global market based mechanism.
Iberia will take delivery of its first new A330 at the end of January, and the aircraft will feature the airline’s new business- and economy-class design. The airline has decided against fitting the new widebodies with an intermediate cabin “because we believe we can accommodate the needs of our market with a business cabin with seats that unfold into completely horizontal beds and 2.2 meters [7.2 ft.] of space between rows and a good economy class with personal inflight entertainment,” Garcia Blazquez says. “We do not have large premium market as in London.”
Iberia’s A340-600s also will be fitted with the new cabins.
The airline’s reorganization targets a turnaround in profitability of at least €600 million ($790 million) from 2012 levels to align it with IAG’s goal of attaining a 12% return on capital by 2015.
Iberia’s fleet also will be reduced by 25 aircraft, 4,500 jobs will be cut and the route network will be optimized. Overall, 2013 capacity will be reduced 15%. The widebody fleet will be reduced from 33 aircraft now to 29 in 2015.
IAG also is planning a full takeover of Barcelona-El Prat Airport-based low-fare carrier Vueling Airlines, in which it already holds a 46% stake.
Iberia averted a series of strike during the winter holiday period after reaching agreement with unions representing ground staff and cabin crews to negotiate terms of its transformation plan and new work and pay conditions for a five-year period, through 2017.
IAG has set a Jan. 31 deadline to reach agreement on the terms of Iberia’s transformation plan with all employee groups, also with the SEPLA union representing pilots.
If no company-wide agreement is reached, IAG has said it will accelerate the downsizing of Iberia to safeguard the company’s viability.