Iberia revamps "Puente Aéreo" (the Barcelona-Madrid shuttle)

Iberia Airbus

For many years the "Puente Aéreo" (the was not only Iberia's bread-and-butter but one of the top air routes in the World by frequencies and traffic (and possibly profits!). 

The Puente Aéreo has operated continuously since its launch in 1974, and in fact, it remained pretty much the only route still operated by Iberia proper at Barcelona airport (I do not count Vueling and regional franchise Air Nostrum here). Passengers could just show up at the airport up to 15 minutes before departure and board the next aircraft traveling between the two cities (the commercial slogan is "Llegar y Volar", "show up and Fly"), a feature that made the Puente Aéreo popular with businessmen and politicians because of the flexibility it provided.

The inauguration of the high speed rail link between Barcelona and Madrid and the advent of low cost airlines, however, made the air shuttle lose some of its lustre.

But Iberia just announced a revamp of its Puente Aéreo service that will hybridise it a bit, in order to strengthen its competitiveness.

Perhaps the most notable new feature is that it will be possible to book seats in advance. This, in itself does not sound like a big move, since it is the norm in most commercial air services, but it is remarkable in a shuttle service that took pride in its first-come-first -served "purity".

Iberia is also adding Vueling's 10 daily flights between Barcelona and Madrid to the 16 frequencies of its own, and making them also part of the "Puente Aéreo" product. So plenty of more capacity to choose from (not sure Vueling's seat pitch is a good match for the Iberia of the good old times, but, after all, it is a one hour flight!), particularly at peak times.