Yesterday Iberia operated a flight from Madrid to Buenos Aires with a special aircraft commemorating the airline’s 70 years of service to Latin America. Argentine officials met the flight, since Buenos Aires became Iberia’s first transatlantic destination on 22 September 1946.
To mark the occasion Iberia has adorned the aircraft, also named Buenos Aires, with the flags of the 16 Latin American countries to which the Spanish airline flies today, all non-stop from Madrid.: Mexico, USA/Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.
Several companies doing business on both sides of the Atlantic and with close ties to Iberia have joined on the 70th anniversary celebrations: El Corte Inglés, Airbus, American Express, Avis, and Meliá.
El Corte Inglés retail giant operates in eleven Latin American countries via its travel arm Viajes El Corte Inglés, the fashion label Sfera, and the IT division Informática El Corte Inglés. Airbus has sole more than 1,000 aircraft in Latin America, with more than 450 on its order books. American Express operates in 15 Latin American countries, supplying financial and travel services to both individuals and companies. Meliá Hotels International pioneered the development of the travel sector in the Caribbean, and, as a leading imitational holiday hotel chain, it is one of Latin America’s largest hotel companies, with operations in 13 countries. Avis is one of the world’s best-known car rental firms, and has done business in Latin America since 1953, when it opened a branch in Mexico.
A Year of Celebrations
To mark the anniversary of the launch of regular flights between Spain and Latin America, throughout 2016 Iberia has carried out a series of social, institutional, cultural, and customer-oriented actions.
All new A330-200 aircraft delivered to Iberia this year have been named for Latin American cities: La Habana, Puerto Rico, Lima, Oaxaca, etc. The airline sponsored the “La Guitarra Vuela” or “Flying Guitar” project, a documentary showing which local musicians in seven Latin American countries playing the last guitar owned by Spain’s legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía, who died in 2014. In Santiago de Chile, Iberia staged an exhibition of photographs spanning the past seven decades, along with a forum held with local businesses. In Madrid, it organised a benefit concert for the NGO “envera” established by Iberia employees to help the disabled, starring the operatic tenor Plácido Domingo. In a naming ceremony in Madrid on 28 September, the airline will dub a new aircraft “Iberoamerica”. For its customers, during the year Iberia has completed the upgrading of all the aircraft used on Latin American flights, now featuring all-new Business and Economy cabins.
This week the airline is to stage several events in Buenos Aires, its first Latin American destination, including the christening of an airplane with the name “Buenos Aires” and the presentation of Iberia’s new logo and livery as well as its new cabin interiors. It will also open the “70 years with Latin America” photographic exhibition, staged jointly with Spain’s international news agency Efe; sponsor a recital by Luis Salinas, who took part in the “La Guitarra Vuela” project; support a project in collaboration with the Fundación Juegoterapia (Play Therapy Foundation) at the city’s Garrahan children’s hospital; and hold and institution meeting with the Argentine government.
Iberia’s First Transatlantic Flight 70 Year Ago as Remembered by a Passenger
On 22 September, 1946, Iberia became the first airline after WWII to operate regular services to Latin America, with flights between Madrid and Buenos Aires.
The 36-hour flight made refuelling stops in Villa Cisneros (now Dahkla), and both Natal and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, before reaching its final destination at Morón airport near Buenos Aires. The aircraft used was a 44-seat Douglas DC-4.
This was Iberia’s first flight with air hostesses and in-flight meal service –initially confined to fried chicken, potato omelette, hard-boiled eggs, and chocolate sweets. The fare in 1946 was 7.250 pesetas
One of the passengers on the maiden flight was the child Francisco Botas, who, 70 years later, still flies often with Iberia. He still remembers that flight: “I remember that we had lunch at the Governor’s mansion Villa Cisneros, where two leopards were kept. During the flight one or another of the hostesses was always with me, and I remember that one of them gave me a toy car as a present. It took us 13 hours to fly from Villa Cisneros to Natal, and at one point the airplane was moving a lot and they took me the the rear to distract me by showing me maps of stars. I also remember being taken to the cockpit by the captain, and how they fumigated the airplane when we reached Natal. In Buenos Aires there were lots of reporters awaiting the flight. Since then I’ve flown more than 400 times with Iberia.”