Other options to consider are interlining agreements with Qatar Airways, since its entry into One World facilitates the relationship

The President of Vueling, Álex Cruz, explained last Thursday that they expect to close agreements with American Airlines - which is prioritized due to the benefits this would entail both for the Catalan airline and Barcelona Airport – as well as with Qatar Airways and Avianca in 2014.

Speaking to the media after the conference “Aviation and Development for the recovery of the economy. What we have learned from Vueling”, he argued that the agreements with American Airlines - whose merger with U.S. Airways has already been approved - would be a "great opportunity" for their flights to Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Charlotte.

He also stated that the goal is to convince the airline of the attractiveness of Barcelona as a connection point and for them also to travel to Chicago and Dallas, which would help Barcelona-El Prat Airport to move up in the ranking of European airports and increase its competitiveness.

It is a difficult job because of the size of the foreign airline, although Cruz also defended the position of Vueling: "We will not accept relationships that take away our options as Barcelona carriers".

Other options to consider are interlining agreements with Qatar Airways as their entry into One World facilitates the relationship, even though there are still technical issues to be solved in order to feed their flights, although Vueling is making progress on this issue.

However, he said that should the deal with Qatar Airways be closed the value provided would be two daily flights and the number of connecting passengers would not be as high as that achieved if an agreement with American Airlines were to be closed: "What I am concerned about most is that the impact of the news is larger than the value that it brings to Vueling".

Concerning the need for Barcelona-El Prat Aiport to have a good ground connection, he considered that "Barcelona must have the same degree of intermodality as the major European cities", despite recognizing that at present investments in infrastructure are complicated due to the crisis.

However, he argued the importance of the AVE arriving at the airport so that Vueling can take all the traffic from Zaragoza, and he celebrated the direct high speed connection Barcelona-Paris, which will be opened on December 15th, to attract passengers from the south of France.

Vueling will operate 14 new routes from Barcelona next summer season, amounting to a total of 117 destinations, and will buy seven aircraft, going from the current 43 to 50, which will mean hiring 300 more workers, of which two thirds are cabin crew (TCP) - recruitment will close in March - and the rest will be pilots – recruitment is expected to close before Christmas.

As regards Spanair, he indicated that the company he heads has hired about 200 people after its bankruptcy, and he said: "The conclusion is clear, and it is that the cocktail of public money with political motivations in Airlines only serves to destroy value and we cannot let that happen again."

Vueling is part of the IAG holding together with British Airways (BA) and Iberia, but he maintained that the company he heads has no conflicts with BA because for the Catalan airline London is a destination and not its main focus, and he added that Iberia "is in intensive care" and that eventually the air shuttle operation must be resolved.

He added that Iberia is focused on Madrid, is strong in South America, and has a smaller weight in North America and Africa: "Their goal is to leave intensive care as number one, which is complicated because there are many negotiations with the unions, but Iberia has the ability to restructure and to be the only flagship airline in Europe to have restructured."

"I do not doubt that some conflict will arise at some point, as to where I put my money in the holding, but right now the spirit is that each company has to do everything it has to in order to satisfy their individual services," he finished.



Source: La Vanguardia

Posted by flytobarcelona.org; 2013-12-03

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