Iberia is back – hopefully with more Spaniards
Industry remains hopeful that the resumption of services between Johannesburg and Madrid, with three weekly flights, will increase the number of visitors from the Spanish market to South Africa.
Arrivals from Spain are up 19%, year-to-date, according to the arrival statistics for May from Stats SA. “I’m sure that Iberia will make those numbers grow,” said Juan Ignacio Sell Sanz, Spanish Ambassador to South Africa.
“With our flight from Johannesburg to Madrid, we will be strengthening economic and cultural ties between South Africa and Spain, while also promoting European tourism to South Africa,” said Marco Sansavini, Iberia Chief Commercial Director.
Margeaux Burger, MICE Manager at Seventh Sense travel, said that resuming the flights could only have a positive impact on tourism to South Africa. She said the Spanish market did not have many options available in terms of travelling to South Africa, and a direct flight was good news.
However, operators also pointed out that the flights would not necessarily be full of passengers from Spain. “They have always been a cheap option from Europe; often the plane was more full of Germans than Spanish people,” said Sonia Carralero Fernandez, from Thompsons Africa.
She said if the flights were affordable and the euro remained strong, SA would become a more viable destination for Spaniards. “At the moment coming to SA is a bit of a mission for Spaniards who like to fly directly, so I definitely think that it will be a good booster for the Spanish market. I think it can only be positive for South Africa. I hope so, at least.”
Sansavini said Iberia had experienced a transformation, both financially and in its service offering, which ensured sustainability of the flight. He said the airline had undergone restructuring, adding that, despite flights being full, they were previously unprofitable. He added that a sustainable flight required a good mix of traffic on board which good service is able to attract.
South Africa is the featured country in the August issue of Iberia’s in-flight magazine, Ronda, which Sansavini hopes will encourage tourism to the destination.
Flight IB6051 departs Madrid at 23h45 and arrives in Johannesburg at 09h55 on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. The return flight IB6050 departs Johannesburg at 20h15 and arrives in Madrid at 06h45 on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.