Spanish carrier Volotea is poised to ease Iberia parent IAG’s acquisition of Air Europa, by reinforcing competition on overlap routes that might otherwise attract European regulatory objections.
Under a provisional agreement with IAG, Volotea would open at least two, and up to four, bases in Spain in order to pick up routes through slots transferred from either Iberia or Air Europa.
Volotea says Iberia has proposed the “fix it first” remedial actions intended to “facilitate” clearance for the IAG-Air Europa deal from the European Commission.
IAG unveiled its €1 billion acquisition of Air Europa last November. Along with Iberia, IAG already owns another Spanish carrier, budget airline Vueling.
Volotea says its independence from IAG’s portfolio of Spanish operators means it is an “ideal” candidate for the proposed remedy, which still needs examination and acceptance by the Commission.
“If the Commision approves this proposal, Volotea will strengthen significantly its growth in Spain,” says the carrier.
It says it would open two to four bases under the plan, although it has not identified the locations.
The airline already has bases in Asturias and Bilbao, and serves multiple Spanish destinations including Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Valencia.
Volotea says it has concentrated on enhancing connectivity between medium-sized European cities, and chief executive Carlos Munoz says the IAG agreement will enable it to “make an important step forward”.
Spanish customers, he adds, will benefit from the airline’s ability to “launch new routes at very competitive prices and with a high level of service”.
Volotea flies 92 Spanish routes, out of more than 300 in its overall network, and says the IAG agreement will enable it to increase its presence in Madrid and improve connectivity between autonomous regions and Spanish island territories.