Gibraltar expressed confidence that Andalus Lineas Aereas, the regional airline that resumes flights from the Rock to the Spanish capital Madrid as from Thursday morning, “is here to stay and will have a long term presence in Gibraltar”, reports the Gibraltar Chronicle.
Speaking to guests at the official launch, attended by Gibraltar and neighbouring Campo officials, Minister for Transport Joe Holliday said it would be “third-time lucky” for the operator, following the demise of both Iberia and GB Airways who previously failed in their attempts to run a sustainable service to Madrid.
The minister noted that the restoration of the route was a commitment that stemmed from the tri-lateral Cordoba Agreement (Gib, Spain UK), and mooted the strong possibility that flights to Barcelona and Bilbao could soon follow.
Mr Holliday welcomed the launch of air-links with Madrid and congratulated Andalus Airlines for “the tremendous amount of work they have put in,” to see the project come to fruition in the limited time that was available.
He said the Gibraltar Government had a long term vision in the development of the air-travel industry, pointing to the works for a new air terminal, and the plans to fly to more destinations in Spain and other European countries in the future.
Mr Holliday said that, after GB Airways and Iberia’s failure in the route, he had been asked several times what made him think a regional airline like Andalus could succeed.
The minister replied that the 50 seat aircraft, the frequency of flights – two daily flights in both directions – and flexible timetable which includes an early morning flight and evening return, was what the route needed. Mr Holliday said this was the business model to make the route successful and attractive to clients.
The minister also noted the hard work by the airline to obtain appropriate slots in Barajas so that the timetable was right for the needs of passengers.
Mr Holliday said the restoration of air links with Madrid was important and would provide “a world of opportunity for Gibraltar and the Campo area.” e said it was now a question of starting to work aggressively to promote tourism in Gibraltar and the hinterland, expressing the conviction that there was great potential in the Madrid region for this.
The minister welcomed representatives from the airline including its Chief Executive Officer, Jose Maria Martin Delgado, and political officials such as Julio Montesinos, the representative of the Spanish Foreign Ministry in the Campo, and others from various Campo Ayuntamientos, Junta de Andalucia, Diputacion Provincial de Cadiz and Campo Mancomunidad.
Andalus Lineas Aereas also confirmed that daily flights (Saturdays excepted) between Gibraltar and Barcelona would commence on June 4th. The flight will leave Gibraltar at 12.35 and return to Gibraltar at 15.05.