Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday evening the Catalan airline Vueling presented its strategic plan for the next two years, which plans to transform Barcelona El Prat Airport into Europe\u2019s main hub for short and medium distance flights by 2014. In order to reach this objective, Vueling will link Barcelona to 100 destinations from summer 2013. It will add 28 new routes, including 5 destinations that have never been directly connected to Barcelona El Part Airport: Dresden (Germany), Rennes (France), Fez (Morocco), Rhodes and Kos (Greece). Furthermore, the Catalan airline will foster its offer to business travellers by unveiling the new \u2018Excellence\u2019 flying class and operating direct flights linking Barcelona with London-Gatwick and Frankfurt. Vueling\u2019s President, Josep Piqué, emphasised that these news prove once again that the company has been clearly investing in Barcelona El Prat Airport since 2004. In addition, Piqué announced that in 2012, Vueling will end the year in profit. It will be the fourth year in a row that the Catalan airline has been in profit, being one of the few European airlines to be profitable in recent years. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, who attended Vueling\u2019s strategic plan presentation, praised the company\u2019s commitment to Barcelona Airport and asked it to become \u201Cthe airline our country needs\u201D in order \u201Cto win the game of international projection\u201D.
Europe\u2019s main hub for short and medium distance flights by 2014
From next summer, Vueling will add 28 new routes operating from Barcelona El Prat Airport to cities in France, Germany, Italy, and the Nordic countries, among others. With this initiative, the company will continue its plan to increase connections from Barcelona\u2019s airport. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, Vueling added a total of 45 new routes operating from the Catalan capital. By the summer 2013, Vueling will connect the Catalan capital to 100 destinations in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. As Piqué explained, this strategy will make Barcelona El Prat Airport Europe\u2019s main hub for short and medium distance flights (considering all the airlines) by 2014. Currently Catalonia\u2019s main airport is already the second continental hub for this kind of flight.
500 new employees
In order to cope with these new routes, Vueling will increase its staff with 500 new employees, including pilots, air crews and support staff. In addition, it will increase the number of aircraft based in Barcelona, increasing from 34 to 43 planes. This will re-confirm Barcelona\u2019s airport as the company\u2019s main hub, way ahead of Madrid Barajas, Málaga or Amsterdam.
The fourth consecutive year in profit
The company\u2019s President, Josep Piqué, explained how the company evolved from 2004 until the present day. Piqué remembered the difficult initial times but he emphasised that nowadays Vueling is a clearly profitable airline. In fact, Piqué stated that in 2012 the company will be in profit. It will be the fourth consecutive year in this situation, being one of the few airlines to be profitable. Piqué has decided to keep the company\u2019s current cost structure, which was reduced in recent years.
Offering higher quality services
Vueling will improve the quality of its services, such as by adding a new premium flying class (called \u2018Excellence) and by continuing to offer flight-transfers from its own flights. In fact, Vueling started as a low-cost company. However, according to Piqué, currently \u201Cit is not a low-cost company, but a company with low costs and competitive, which offers a product that is increasingly more similar to that of the old state flagship airlines\u201D. The company\u2019s CEO, Alex Cruz, explained the details of the new \u2018Excellence\u2019 class, which \u201Cwill offer more comfort services at a very competitive price\u201D. In addition, he detailed the new connections, including the strategic flights linking Barcelona to London-Gatwick and Frankfurt, aiming to attract business travellers. Besides, Cruz unveiled Vueling\u2019s new slogan: \u2018Love the way you fly\u2019.
Barcelona, the company\u2019s strategic investment
Piqué underlined Vueling\u2019s strategic investment in Barcelona El Prat Airport, where it already has 30% of the market share. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, who attended Vueling\u2019s presentation, praised the company\u2019s commitment to Barcelona and Catalonia. He asked Vueling to \u201Cfulfil the role of the airline our country needs\u201D in order \u201Cto win the battle of international projection\u201D. Mas remarked that other companies have abandoned Barcelona El Prat Airport, such as Iberia \u2013 partially owned by the Spanish Government. He also stressed that others had tried to invest in El Prat but they were not successful, such as Spanair. However, Vueling \u201Cbelieved\u201D in the airport and made \u201Ca definitive investment\u201D which has resulted in absolute success. Mas praised Vueling\u2019s strategy as it helps Catalonia to \u201Cwin the game of international projection\u201D. The Catalan President congratulated the company on its success and for having \u201Ctransformed Barcelona El Prat into a great base\u201D, a situation that represents having reached \u201Ca point of no return\u201D.
Mas claims for Barcelona El Prat Airport\u2019s railway connection
Additionally, the Catalan President sent a message to the Spanish Government. Mas asked the Spanish Government once again to start working on the railway connection to Barcelona Airport\u2019s new Terminal 1, which is planned but work has been delayed without a fixed date for unveiling it. Mas lamented that the Spanish Government did not prioritise the railway connections with Barcelona\u2019s airport and sea port, despite having the budget to build one of the world\u2019s largest high-speed train networks. Mas emphasised that this is a shared claim from Catalonia\u2019s business community, in particular the industrial and logistics sectors.