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Iberia Express to operate British Airways flights from Gatwick Airport this Summer

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Various online sources, some of which include comment from a Spanish trade union representing crew, are reporting that British Airways has signed a contract with sister airline Iberia Express to operates some London Gatwick services this Summer.

The deal covers four aircraft, which will come with their own Iberia Express crew.

It is likely that around 25% to 33% of BA short-haul flights from Gatwick will be operated by these aircraft.

Iberia Express to operate BA flights from Gatwick this Summer!

Whilst Iberia Express doesn’t have a great reputation for comfort, the aircraft layout is virtually identical to the densely configured Airbus A320 fleet that BA was planning to use.

Will these aircraft have Business Class?

Iberia Express does operate Business Class on its own services, so anyone who has booked Club Europe should receive the standard service. The catering would be provided by BA’s usual suppliers.

Business Class cabins on Iberia Express are capped at six rows. It’s not clear if this is due to any physical limitation (eg food storage, leg room) which would require BA to match, or if it is an economic decision, in which case BA could sell far more if required.

Will these aircraft have wi-fi and at-seat power?

Yes.

Do they have reclining seats?

According to this seat plan, no.

The A320 fleet reportedly has non-reclining Recaro SL3510 slimline (ie not well padded!) seats.

Why is BA using Iberia Express aircraft and crew?

BA Euroflyer, as British Airways is calling its new Gatwick-based short-haul airline, was meant to have around 17 aircraft in use at the peak of the Summer 2022 season, albeit the starting number was far lower.

Whilst British Airways has the aircraft, it doesn’t have enough trained crew and will not be able to get them in place by 29th March. Taking the Iberia Express aircraft – which BA doesn’t need – and the crew – which it does need – is presumably due to training or regulatory issues.

What is Iberia Express like?

I reviewed Iberia Express in Business Class back in 2017 – see here.

As you can see, it was typical 3 x 3 seating:

Iberia Express business class

I was the only business class passenger on that flight! Here is the legroom I had when sat in the front row:

Iberia Express business class review

My conclusion in 2017 was:

I had heard decent things about Iberia Express in business class and, for a low cost carrier, I wasn’t disappointed.

Can I cancel my BA flight if it is operated by Iberia Express?

Historically, British Airways has allowed passengers to cancel or change their flight without penalty if it was to be operated by another airline.

To be honest, I can’t see any genuine reason to cancel purely because you are being swapped from a sardine-like BA A320 to a sardine-like Iberia Express A320.

However, the potential ability to get a refund is worth bearing in mind if you have seats booked and now cannot travel or would prefer to travel from Heathrow and see this as a reason to request a switch.

Which British Airways routes will be operated by Iberia Express?

We don’t know. It’s very likely that most routes from Gatwick will see these aircraft at some point.

The lease runs, apparently, for the entire Summer season from April to October. As BA Euroflyer services are being ramped up slowly, the Iberia Express fleet is likely to be running a high percentage of flights in April, but dropping as more BA aircraft and crew come in to cover the Summer peak.

As a reminder, here are the 35 routes which BA Euroflyer will be running from Gatwick this Summer, together with their start dates:

  • Alicante – 1st April
  • Antalya – 2nd April
  • Amsterdam – 29th March
  • Athens – 4th May
  • Bari – 3rd April
  • Berlin – 8th April
  • Bordeaux – 15th April
  • Cagliari – 17th April
  • Catania – 31st March
  • Dalaman – 23rd April
  • Dubrovnik – 4th April
  • Faro – 30th March
  • Heraklion – 24th April
  • Ibiza – 5th April
  • Kos – 24th April
  • Lanzarote – 30th March
  • Larnaca – 29th March
  • Las Palmas – 2nd April
  • Madrid – 14th April
  • Mahon – 11th April
  • Malaga – 31st March
  • Malta – 30th March
  • Marrakech – 31st March
  • Milan – 15th April
  • Nice – 31st March
  • Palma – 7th April
  • Paphos – 29th March
  • Rhodes – 28th April
  • Santorini – 15th April
  • Seville – 29th March
  • Tenerife – 29th March
  • Thessaloniki – 14th April
  • Turin – 4th April
  • Venice – 8th April
  • Verona – 29th March

Looking at ba.com, all flights still seem to show ‘British Airways’ as the operating carrier but this is likely to change.


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Comments (32)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • TimM says:

    IAG has so many derivative airlines now that it is hard to see if there is any focus. It is like Aldi bringing out ‘Aldi Express’ and ‘Go Aldi’ etc. I wish IAG would concentrate on one brand and deliver value for money, like Aldi, instead.

    • Entitled says:

      BA would rather be Waitrose but with the cost structure of Aldi. Unsurprisingly therefore they have the benefit of neither.

    • Concerto says:

      The REWE supermarket chain in Germany have done this, as has Coop in Switzerland (Coop, Coop City, Coop pronto, Coop To Go and more!)

    • Richie says:

      I found Aldi Shop&Go was very good, very cheerful staff.

  • Nick says:

    You pays your money and you takes THEIR choice!

  • Ciumpy says:

    “Does” they have reclining seats? Is that a typo ?

  • John says:

    As reported in the forums Oman Air is operating some flights for Qatar too

  • AJA says:

    Iberia Express business class is OK. If you are on a BA flight operated by them I wouldn’t cancel. They are significantly better than Titan Airways which BA used 3 years ago. Can’t give an opinion on travel down the back as I’ve never done that on Iberia Express.

    The only thing to bear in mind is that you may find you will have to chase for Avios and TP as there is a good chance they will not automatically credit. I’ve had this happen 4 times out of 5 when flying IB metal on a BA flight number.

    • Entitled says:

      This isn’t really flying IB metal though. They are BA operated flights, just on borrowed aircraft.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        Ah, that time when I had a BA issued ticket for an Iberia code share on a BA flight operated by Iberia. The miles and tier points didn’t show up first time, but they did fix it for me quickly.

      • AJA says:

        Agreed but BA and IB and their respective IT systems are not the best bedfellows.

        If you assume the TP and Avios will not automatically credit you will not be surprised when they don’t.

  • Pedro says:

    Will be interesting to see if BA uses IB Express aircraft on the LGW-Madrid run. At the moment IB Express has daily flights outbound at 1050 and 1940. The BA offering is at 07:35. The big difference is that, for instance for a 4 July economy flight, BA charges £87 and IB Express around £37. As a Madrid expat I know which airline I going to book with if the product is essentially the same and forgo the avios if necessary (not that I have ever had a problem getting the IB express miles on to my BA account).

    • SamG says:

      You’d think all Madrid flights will be operated by IB as this will be a easy way to rotate in crew and aircraft

      I wouldn’t expect them to operate non EU flights

      • Aisak says:

        They would probably fly routes to Spain to add more bizarreness to the mix. BA code 2xxx but operated by other airline who is I2, who would probably not codeshare on those BA services but IB instead. And the checkin would be carried out at BA counters… manned by IB handling employees. Joy!!!

  • Concerto says:

    Iberia Express (I2) business is ok, service is decent, and I2 economy is just about bearable if the flight is not too long.

  • Lady London says:

    Not good for the BA pilots that were only offered worse terms at Gatwick though for the so-called “new” airline.

    Now they’ll always have Iberia Express behind them able to be used by BA if the BA pilots ever try to improve their wages or conditions. Or BA can use that as a way to impose even worse conditions.

    It does make sense for IAG to multibrand the front passengers see and buy and rationalise and combine back end resources across IAG to resource delivery.

    Sooner or later BA will use this to circle the packages-and-conditions wagons around Heathrow based pilots too. When, will depend only on capacity in the airline industry vs demand in a few years and when current pilot employment deals are due for renegotiation if capacity still exceeds demand.

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