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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.

  • John T says:

    Isn’t the new cabin crew training six weeks? Will they really not have people ready to go by end of March?

    • Dan Miller says:

      I believe it’s pilots that they can’t get through the pipeline in time though I’ve no idea whether it’s cabin crew too.

      • ChrisC says:

        BA have had problems with inducting pilots for several years and despite knowing that has failed to do anything significant about it such as training more trainers / assessors.

        Few years ago friend of mine was offered a job with BA but such was the time between the job offer and putative start date he went to Virgin instead. When you have mortgage/rent, bills and loans to pay you can’t always wait for an employer.

  • Peter says:

    Seems to be a new trend, Ryanair also got 3 airlines based at Stansted now, each with their own aircraft and crew: Ryanair, Ryanair UK and Lauda Europe.

  • Nick says:

    Really object to the race to the bottom of BA’s operations at Gatwick, I struggle to believe pre COVID that BA’s operations at Gatwick were not profitable whatsoever, if I fly BA it will most likely be from Heathrow to support the better pay and conditions staff receive, or possibly from City if more convenient, I might as well fly easyJet from Gatwick. Aside from the Avios and TP, what is the attraction flying BA from Gatwick?

    • Richie says:

      A You don’t have to go on the shuttle to the North Terminal, more time in the Lounge.

    • Jack Hodgson says:

      much easier to get to via public transport than Heathrow as well as relatively new lounges to name but 2

  • Craig V says:

    I flew Iberia Express Business Class in Dec 2021 MAD-LPA-MAD. No real difference to mainstream Iberia shorthaul. Very pleasant cabin crew with good service in a full cabin each way. Legroom a little tight but I’m 6’3″. Seat a bit on the hard side after three hours +. Food sound but uninspriring. Only complaint is that there’s no Champagne. Its replaced by Cava which is a bit sweet for my tastes.

  • Allan says:

    Any indication when LGW – EDI services will resume. The occasional GLA one is running already.

    • Rob says:

      No idea. Glasgow is purely there for the Caribbean connections – when I flew it last month, BA held the flight at Heathrow because one of the inbound Caribbean services was delayed.

  • Josh says:

    This is all because BA has a huge cabin crew shortage for summer.
    They fired too many on covid, and didn’t expect as many as did to take redundancy. Worse, ones they (wrongly) expected would return for their poverty wages have gone and got other jobs.
    With up to 12 weeks to train – once they’ve found suitable possible employees, BA are in the 5hit. Of their own making.
    They wanted market based rates and are now discovering how unforgiving the market is to employers perceived as uncaring, risky and callous.
    The upshot: expect closed F cabins on long haul, minimum crewing and slow service with dumbed down F&B.
    Also expect a lot of cancellations and ‘combined’ flights.

    • Jack Hodgson says:

      the standard training period for BA crew is 6 weeks worth and it is not poverty wages anywhere like before hand. they still have a significant number of cabin crew within the airline with recruitment currently ongoing with no high rate of cancelled flights or combining them

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

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