MONTEVIDEO – Spanish airlines provide the only direct air links between Uruguay and Europe, a business relationship being bolstered this weekend as Iberia begins offering service on the Madrid-Montevideo-Madrid route.
Iberia is joining Air Europa in serving the South American country, returning to a traditional market and giving travelers another option on the 13-hour direct flights linking Montevideo and Madrid.
Iberia, a unit of IAG, started flying the Spain-Uruguay route on Sept. 22, 1946, but the carrier stopped serving Montevideo on April 1, 2013, even though its planes were always full.
The cancellation of the route was blamed on problems associated with Iberia’s integration into IAG.
Air Europa stepped in and began offering service between Spain and Uruguay in response to a request from the Uruguayan government and business community.
The Spanish carrier, a unit of Globalia, cut a deal with the Uruguayan government to obtain jet fuel on favorable terms from state-owned oil company ANCAP.
The agreement, which costs the Uruguayan Treasury about $9 million annually, has been extended to Iberia.
The Spanish airlines will save 8 percent on their fuel costs on the 10,000-kilometer (6,213-mile) non-stop flights between Uruguay and Spain.
Iberia’s first flight to Montevideo, an Airbus A340 with the capacity to carry more than 300 passengers, is scheduled to arrive at 7:15 a.m. Monday and will be welcomed by Tourism and Sports Minister Liliam Kechichian and Transporation and Public Works Minister Enrique Pintado on the tarmac.
Spanish Ambassador to Uruguay Roberto Varela and Iberia president Luis Gallego plan to host a reception to mark the resumption of service by the carrier.
Iberia plans to offer four weekly non-stop flights on the route, with more than 2,300 seats available for travelers.
The flights are expected to boost business ties and tourism between Spain and Uruguay.