Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is London's Iberia route to Bogota under threat?
Every day our travel guru answers your travel questions
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Monday 19 November 2012
Q I'm travelling to Colombia in February. I usually fly Iberia from London via Madrid, but I see flights are being cut. Is the route to Bogota threatened? Would there be possible strikes? Should I avoid Iberia?
Stephi Espinosa, Hendon
A Colombia is probably the most diverse, spectacular and friendly country in South America. BA and the Colombian airline, Avianca, abandoned flights from London to the capital, Bogota. Since then, Iberia has been the natural way to get there. But the Spanish airline is currently losing £1,000 per minute. Ten days ago the owners announced 15 per cent of the network will be cut (without naming the routes), and warned 5,500 jobs must go. If an agreement with the unions is not struck by 31 January, the company warns of “Deeper cuts and a more radical reduction in the size and scale of Iberia's operations”.
I think it most unlikely that Iberia's long-standing link between Madrid and Bogota would be cut; routes to Latin American destinations such as Panama City and Montevideo look more vulnerable. But given the fury of the unions representing Iberia staff, industrial action cannot be ruled out. In the event of a strike, Iberia - and its partner, BA - will do its best to get you there, but this could take time.
Personally I would take the chance, not least because of the very attractive fares on Iberia at present - under £600 return between London and Bogota. But if you need more certainty, or you are heading to a different Colombian city, consider a journey via the US. Cartagena, Cali and Medellin are accessible via Miami, using a combination of British Airways and American Airlines, with fares upwards of £700 return.
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