October 5, 2022
9/01/1999: Aviaco Is Fully Absorbed into Iberia
Today in Aviation

9/01/1999: Aviaco Is Fully Absorbed into Iberia

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Aviación y Comercio, better known as Aviaco (AO), was fully absorbed into Iberia’s (IB) operation in 1999.

Aviaco was founded by Spain’s National Institute of Industry on February 18, 1948. The airline was intended to supplement Iberia’s inadequate regional network, as the flag carrier focused on its long-haul routes. Operations commenced in September between Madrid, Bilbao, and Barcelona using a fleet of three Bristol 170s.

In 1959, AO was reorganized with a view to strengthening its position against a growing number of competitors. Keen to cash in on the growing charter market, AO acquired three Convair CV-440s from Sabena (SN) and put them to use on flights to Germany and the UK.

The 1960s were a boom time for the company. As its network grew, the Spanish government decided to establish a joint board for AO and IB. This was to ensure that the two carriers’ activities were properly coordinated.

A total of six Convair CV-440s were acquired from Sabena, after the Belgian flag carrier decided to retire the aircraft. (Photo: RuthAS, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Legendary Charter Operator


By the 1980s, Aviaco’s charter operation was booming. The airline’s blue and white DC-9 jets were commonplace at most regional airports across the UK and Germany. Its regional network was also an important part of its business, which, despite only accounting for 30% of its flights, made up 70% of its revenue.

In 1998, IB purchased all the remaining shares of AO and added its IB code to all flights. It also announced an order for 76 Airbus A320s, which coincided with plans to standardize its short-haul operations.

The DC-9 was purchased to replace the airline’s aging Sud-Aviation Caravelle and became the mainstay of the Aviaco fleet. Photo: By Gary Watt – http://www.airliners.net/photo/Aviaco/McDonnell-Douglas-DC-9-34/0753459/L/, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28284749

Despite being one of the most valuable members of Iberia’s group of airlines, the writing was on the wall of AO. Just over a year later, the iconic carrier had been fully absorbed into its new parent.


Featured image: An Aviaco McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 on short finals to Fiumicino Airport (FCO / LIRF). Photo: By Aldo Bidini – http://www.airliners.net/photo/Aviaco/McDonnell-Douglas-DC-9-32/1296417/L/, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28283180

editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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