Iberia has cemented the first element of its recent commercial agreement with American Airlines. The Spanish Government has also reconfirmed that the flag carrier will be "fully privatised" by 1999.

Iberia now has frequent-flier and codesharing programmes in place with the US carrier, and expects to tie up similar arrangements with its other new commercial partner, British Airways, by the end of October.

American and BA, still awaiting European Union and US Department of Transport approval for their planned alliance, indicate that they each intend to take a 5% stake in Iberia if the alliance is successful.

Iberia says that the arrangements with the two foreign carriers are only part of a wider opening of capital which will result from its privatisation. So far, the workforce has taken a 9% share of the stock. Iberia says that its next step is to create a stockholder base, probably including the Spanish Government, but open to foreign parties with "no limitations".

Remaining shares will be offered on the Spanish stock market after three concurrent years of profitable performance. Iberia is expected to post a proÌt of Ptas 11 billion ($73.3 million) for 1997, following a Ptas 3.37 billion profit in 1996.

Source: Flight International