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

AO 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 Aviaco and Iberia. 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 flying, made up 70% of its revenue.

In 1998 Iberia purchased all 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.

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

The DC-9 was purchased to replace the airline’s aging Sud-Aviation Caravelle’s and became the mainstay of the Aviaco fleet. (Photo: Pedro Aragão, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)

Featured image: London Heathrow just a few months before the Aviaco brand was retired. Photo: Ken Fielding/https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenfielding, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.