In this second part of the company’s history, we are going to talk about the evolution of Iberia from the arrival of the reactors in the 1960s to the present day.
Arrival of the reactors and expansion
The 1960s represented a revolution not only for Iberia, but for aviation in general. Jets succeeded propellers, and planes became much faster while reaching hitherto forbidden altitudes thanks to the pressurisation of the cockpits.
In May 1961, the airline received its first three jets, the DC-8s, christened Velázquez, El Greco and Goya.
The number of destinations reached by its routes also multiplied. Many European capitals were added, such as Budapest, Warsaw, Athens and Istanbul. And even some cities in the Middle East were added.
From the beginning, the big fashion brands have dressed the Iberia cabin crews. In 1968 the reign of Pedro Rodríguez as designer of the company’s hostess uniforms came to an end, giving way to a new king of haute couture, Manuel Pertegaz.
In the 1970s, due to the expansion of tourism, the airline experienced its greatest growth by tripling the number of passengers transported, from 5 million in 1971 to 15 million in 1980. The demand for flights increased, but so did the competition with charter flights. A new telephone information service was also created, Inforiberia, today Serviberia, where customers can check fares, schedules and buy their tickets 24 hours a day.
In 1977, coinciding with the 50th anniversary, Iberia changed its corporate image and adopted a new logo, which included the royal crown in the newly-established Spanish democracy. That year also saw the presentation of the new Iberia uniforms, made by Spanish designer Elio Berhanyer, who dressed the Iberia Auxiliaries from 1972 to 1989.
Alliances and technological advances
In the early 1980s, large multinationals in each sector began to join forces to save costs and cover more and more markets. The airline industry also experiences growth, especially the evolution of Iberia.
Art is also transported with Iberia. On September 10, 1981, Picasso’s most emblematic work, the “Guernica”, arrived at Madrid’s Barajas Airport from New York City.
Towards the end of the 1980s, thanks to the impetus of four airlines, including Iberia, the Amadeus reservation system was founded. This system allows users to book a wide range of routes and combinations with greater ease and agility, which encouraged Spaniards to travel.
During the 1990s, the evolution of Iberia made it stand out as one of the airlines that best interpreted the future of the sector in the short term. In 1996, with the advance of technology, it became one of the first airlines to have a website and soon became a leader in sales through this system.
IPO and mergers
On April 3, 2001, with the IPO, Iberia completes the privatization process and the company ceases to be owned by the Spanish State. The following year, it joins the select group of the Ibex-35.
In 2009, Iberia and British Airways merged, creating a new company, International Airlines Group (IAG). The new holding company’s corporate and tax headquarters were located in Madrid, while its financial headquarters were in London. There was also a merger between Clickair and Vueling, at that time an independent airline created by Lázaro Ros and Carlos Muñoz -the founders years later of Volotea- creating a single airline, which they called Vueling. Iberia owns 45.8 percent of the shares in this new company.
In 2012, Iberia creates a low-cost subsidiary to operate short- and medium-range flights, Iberia Express. Its aim is to operate point-to-point flights and to feed Iberia’s long-range flights from Madrid.
On October 15, 2013 Iberia slightly modified its brand image, adding new colors and a new style of company, more modern, dynamic and efficient, as we know it today.
In addition to transporting passengers and cargo, Iberia carries out many other activities such as aircraft maintenance, airport handling, in-flight catering, etc.
As to uniforms, the image of Iberia’s staff is currently in the hands of Galician Adolfo Domínguez, who took the reins back in 2005. The image he seeks to convey is one of sober elegance and professionalism, in a striking, functional and beautiful style.
Currently, Iberia flies to 108 destinations in 42 countries. It has a fleet of 169 aircraft that make approximately 1,000 flights a day.
If you want to read the first part of the story again, the evolution of Iberia before of the arrival of the reactors, click here.