Iberia celebrates the 500th anniversary of the founding of Panama City with a commitment to consolidate the country as a tourist, business and investment destination, thanks to the airline enjoying an expansion in the Latin American market and working to boost its presence in Asia.
The president of Iberia, Luis Gallego expressed this Monday in an interview with Efe that the company had an operating profit of "437 million euros last year", a situation that contrasts with the results it presented in 2012, when it lost "one million of euros (1.13 million dollars) per day ".
In Latin America, which concentrates 50% of global operations, the airline has four years of "almost double-digit growth," added the new director of Iberia for the region, Víctor Moneo, who accompanies Gallego on this visit. to offer Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela a promotion plan for Panama.
After the restructuring begun in 2012, Iberia now has an offer in costs, facilities and fleet of modern aircraft that "is competitive" in Europe, where Madrid "is the 'hub' of entry for Latin Americans," and Panama is the " hub "of America, explained the top executives of the Spanish airline.
The Latin American market, "of course, is always the main one," said Gallego, who revealed that this year the company plans to "grow a lot, on a scale of 8% seat per kilometer offered."
"We are in Panama City because it is very important, it has been for 48 years that we have flown here, we come here to explain the new Iberia, the new product and the commitment we have always had with this city," said the president of the Spanish firm.
He said that the fleet of Airbus planes that fly daily to Panama since 2014 with the model 330-300 will be renewed.
He specified that from the international airport of Tocumen, the main one of Panama and an important regional connections center, with its allies Copa Airlines and Taca-Avianca, reach more destinations "and we not only promote Panama but all of Central America with the daily flight Guatemala- The Savior".
In general terms, Gallego highlighted the "very volatile" environment of the business, which depends "on the price of fuel" and "in the case of Iberia of some economies in Latin America such as Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, which are experiencing certain difficulties".
"But we are clear that what guarantees survival is having an adequate cost structure," he said.
He considered that the process of consolidating airlines "will continue", and that in this context "companies are taking market share that are leaving others that have fallen by the wayside".
"Iberia (also) looks at the Asian market, flew to Japan many years ago, but the route was canceled, two and a half years ago we decided that Iberia must be a global company, it is true that half of our capacity is in Latin America , but we also have destinations in North America, in Africa and we wanted to have a presence in Asia, "he noted.
Now fly to Shanghai (China), re-established the route to Tokyo (Japan) with 5 weekly flights and "the enormous potential that exists, through the 'hub' of Madrid connecting (Asia) with Latin America", taking advantage of Panama being the 'hub' that can move that flow of Latin American passengers to Asia.
"In Panama we have an important opportunity, we see that traffic flows are multiplying exponentially, it is a market with a lot of purchasing power and capturing that type of tourism is going to be key and we think that Madrid, which is considered the gateway of Latin America, is in an ideal situation to boost tourism in this region, "he added.
He acknowledged that "there is more competition, always, but the truth is that the Panamanian, Spanish, European client has always been faithful to a brand like Iberia".
"Yesterday (Sunday) we fulfilled the 48 years of flight to Panama, since 1971, as marriages, we have always been in the good, in the bad and we have always opted for Panama and we will continue betting," said Gallego.
Moneo, for his part, recalled that from Madrid, "we have 33 cities within Spain to connect and 68 cities in Europe."
He stressed that since 2015 "we brought the delegation for all Central America to Panama, as proof that it is from here that we want to pilot our tourism and business development in the area."
"If the regionalization of operations from Panama works for us," he said.
Luis Miguel Blanco