Recently privatised Spanish national carrier Iberia, in which British Airways owns a 9% stake, has agreed with the UK airline to enhance their present partnership, first forged in February 1999.

Closer sales and marketing liaison is the cornerstone of the development plan, as is extended code-sharing – joint flight schedules and fare structure across the South Atlantic. Both airlines belong to the eight-member Oneworld alliance.

According to Iberia chief executive Xabier Irala, the duo aim "to move forward quickly to secure improved services and further efficiencies through wider and deeper co-operation."

Their closer relationship is likely to trigger EC competition scrutiny because of the couple’s dominance of the main routes between Spain and the UK. However, the advent of new competitors – BMI British Midland and low-cost rivals easyJet, Go and Buzz – is likely to prevent an outright ban.

News source: Financial Times [07-May-01]