Vueling adds 14 new routes from Barcelona El Prat Airport
Vueling will launch 14 new routes from Barcelona El Prat Airport in the summer of 2014, reaching a total of 117 destinations from Catalonia’s main airport. Starting next summer, the Barcelona-based airline will favour German and Russian destinations. The company has also bought 7 new aircrafts, to make the total number of Vueling planes based in Barcelona El Prat reach 50. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, said these new routes coincided with the Catalan Government’s tourism strategy. Vueling currently holds 34% of the market share of the El Prat Airport and the company wishes to control 50% of this infrastructure’s air traffic within the next 5 years. With a total of 240 routes and 14 million passengers a year, Vueling is expected to become the leading airline in Europe for short- and medium-distance flights.
Barcelona (ACN).- Vueling is continuing to promote its new route map for the summer of 2014 by adding 14 new routes from Barcelona El Prat Airport, reaching a total of 117 destinations from Catalonia’s main airport. The company has also bought 7 new aircrafts, to make the total number of Vueling planes based in Barcelona El Prat reach 50. Germany and Russia are the two main expansion priorities for next season, as announced by the President of Vueling, Àlex Cruz, during a press conference held on Wednesday in Barcelona. Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig said that the creation of these new routes coincided with the Catalan Government’s tourism strategy, which focuses on mature and emerging markets. Vueling currently holds 34% market share of the El Prat Airport and it seeks to control 50% of the air traffic in the Catalan capital within the next five years. At the end of next year, Vueling should dispose of a total of 240 routes, with the yearly number of passengers reaching 14 million and several operating bases besides Barcelona,. Vueling is expected to become the leading airline in Europe for short- and medium-distance flights, stated Alex Cruz.
Alex Cruz explained that the new 7 routes from Barcelona would also lead to the creation of 300 jobs, including pilots, cabin assistants and ground staff. The President of Vueling specified that recruitment had started in October and would end in April
Despite being part of the IAG group formed of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, Cruz made clear that Madrid was a “target destination” only and not a source city for Vueling. Cruz also reasserted his commitment to Barcelona El Prat as the company’s “home” airport. Vueling’s strategic objective is to strengthen its presence in Barcelona and to develop its European network, he insisted. Currently Vueling has 43 planes based in the Catalan capital, out of a 70 aircraft fleet. This winter, the airline links Barcelona with 103 destinations.
An agreement with the Catalan Government and the tourism sector
Regarding the relationship between the company and Barcelona, Cruz said that currently Vueling was “committed” to Barcelona unlike any other company, and that this would be “an ongoing commitment” that would continue with the partnership of the tourism sector of Catalonia and the Catalan Government itself.
In this respect, the Minister for Business and Employment intervened to highlight this collaboration between the Catalan Government and Vueling. Puig noted that the mutual strategy was visible in the creation of these 14 new routes, which will be launched in the summer of 2014. He indicated that both company and Government had agreed on the top priority markets for Catalonia, such as Germany and Russia. According to Puig, Vueling is the “flagship airline” for the Catalan Government.
A new set of destinations
The new destinations for next summer will be Bastia in Corsica (France), Krakow (Poland), Donetsk and Kharkov (Ukraine), Kaliningrad and Kazan (Russia) and Tunisia. These destinations will complete the ones which were already announced earlier this year. Among such cities are Porto, Warsaw, Jerez, Leipzig, Dakar, Budapest and Belgrade, some of which had never been connected to Barcelona before.
Barcelona, linked with 11 German cities
Cruz also defended the strategic collaboration with the tourism sector in Catalonia and noted that one of the key markets for 2014 was Germany. He added that the incorporation of Leipzig on its map would set routes between Barcelona and eleven German cities.
Another priority market is Russia and its neighbouring countries. Vueling started with Moscow and St. Petersburg last summer and continued with Kiev (Ukraine) and Minsk (Belarus). Next summer, other destinations will be added to the company’s route map: Khàskiv and Donetsk (Ukraine) as well as Kaliningrad and Kazan (Russia).
Alex Cruz explained that Germany had gotten used to flying with Vueling, and they were expecting Russia to feel the same way very soon. He added they were also learning to “fly with Africa”, which was the next market they hoped to conquer in the upcoming years.
Negotiations with Colombian company Avianca
Alex Cruz and Felip Puig also reflected on the current talks between Vueling and Colombian company Avianca to promote intercontinental flights between Barcelona El Prat Airport and Colombia. In this respect, Cruz stated there might be an announcement on such issues “in the coming months”. However, he ruled out the idea to launch new destinations next summer is part of the company’s strategy to increase the number of passengers to feed new intercontinental flights.
A wish to develop long-distance and intercontinental flights
Although it is not in Vueling’s immediate plans to develop intercontinental and long-distance flights, Felip Puig said it was not completely unlikely to think that in future years, as the company continued to expand, they would consider developing intercontinental routes either individually or trough partnerships with other airlines. “The current trend is excellent and extraordinary”; “we are very pleased with the institutional collaboration” with the company, and “we will be expanding” its conditions and contents, stated Puig
Currently the agreement signed between the Catalan Government and Vueling is to be renewed annually. Vueling is to provide € 100,000’s worth of tickets and tourism promotions abroad and the Government and Vueling make a “shared” €300,000 worth contribution for advertising and marketing campaigns destined to conquer emerging markets.