IBERIA Express' first flight took off today, much to the chagrin of the company's pilots, who have a series of strikes planned until the end of May, but with prices that more than pleased its passengers.
Today's first-ever low-cost flight run by the national airline took off from Madrid's Barajas airport at 07.35hrs for Alicante, and the noon flight to Sevilla from Madrid was the one chosen by the company's bosses to officially 'baptise' the new service.
For the next few months, internal flights between mainland destinations or to the Balearic Islands will cost just 25 euros, rising to 45 euros for flights to the Canary Islands which will start to run in June - and 59 for European short-haul destinations, planned to take off between July and September.
CEO Luis Gallego says although Iberia Express will offer prices and destinations similar to those of traditional budget airlines, its services will mirror those of the existing inter-continental routes including offering business class rates, VIP lounges and connecting flights.
With capacity for up to 177 passengers per flight, the company intends to run connections to 20 destinations using a fleet of 14 craft and a team of 500 staff members by the end of 2012.
Gallego was unable to give details of prices applicable once the opening offer period is over, but stressed they would be competitive in comparison with other low-cost airlines.
A further 12 strikes are planned by pilots and cabin crew, who fear that up to 6,000 jobs could be lost as a result of the opening of Iberia Express.