Iberia Traffic Chilled By Snow, Weak Demand

February 13, 2009

Passenger traffic at Iberia fell 12 percent in January from a year earlier as snowstorms and an industrial action compounded weakening demand across short, medium and long-haul routes.

Blizzards shut Iberia's home hub, Madrid's Barajas Airport, for only the second time ever in January, forcing the carrier to cancel hundreds of flights. Industrial action by pilots also delayed and halted flights, but a trend of sharply falling demand that first struck the airline last September remained.

"Air traffic continues with a negative trend due to the difficult economic environment," Iberia said in a statement.

Iberia, which is in talks to merge with British Airways, said its load factor fell to 74 percent in January from 77.3 percent a year earlier.

Spain, the euro zone's fourth biggest economy, has been one of the hardest hit within the currency union, and the downturn had a particularly sharp impact on domestic demand.

Although Iberia cut capacity 26.8 percent in line with its strategic plan to concentrate on European routes and long-haul routes to Latin America, domestic traffic slumped 35.1 percent.

Long haul traffic was down 6.4 percent on a 1.3 percent cut in capacity while medium haul traffic -- most of it within Europe -- fell 14.3 percent on an 11.7 percent reduction in seats.

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