On December 17, shortly before 4:00 p.m., an ATR 72-600 plane from the company Air Nostrum landed at the Andorra-La Seu d'Urgell airport, coming from the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport. A) Yes The regular flight line from Andorra to Madrid and vice versa was inaugurated, which will operate twice a week, which was agreed to three parties by the Government of Andorra, the Government of Catalonia and the Government of Spain.
Air Nostrum, a subsidiary of regional flights of the famous Spanish airline Iberia, was the company that won the exploitation of said new route, arising from the international competition initiated by the Government of Andorra with the aim of reinforcing and improving the connectivity of the Principality and favoring its disenclave. For this, the Government of Andorra will contribute more than 630,000 euros in order to ensure the economic viability of the line during the first year of operation.
The inauguration and ribbon cutting at Madrid airport It has been done with the participation of Minister Jordi Gallardo and Minister Raquel Sánchez, from Andorra. On the other hand, there were the president of AENA, the commercial director of Air Nostrum, the Councilor for Tourism of the Madrid City Council and the Minister of the Interior of the Community of Madrid.
From the Government of Andorra have admitted that this is a long-awaited milestone, since they always had the confidence that establishing operations at La Seu airport would be something beneficial for the country and for the entire territory of the Pyrenees both in terms of tourism and in terms of trade and business. They have also remarked that having achieved the Authorization to perform instrument flights with GPS approach (which is the one that allows planes to land despite bad weather conditions) is very important for establishing regular routes, since the airport is located at an altitude of 800 meters and surrounded by mountains.
The agreement between the Government and the company includes round-trip connections with the capital of Spain on both Fridays and Sundays. The cost for users is from 59 euros the journey with which, as Gallardo himself has said, Andorra will be 2 hours and a half from Barcelona Airport by car and 2 hours from Madrid Airport by car and plane, expanding the country's international access.
Andorra and Madrid one hour by plane
The duration of the journey made by the line is approximately one hour. The Head of Government, Xavier Espot, and the Minister of Tourism and Telecommunications, Jordi Torres, have received the authorities and the rest of the passengers of the first flight upon their arrival in Andorra-Seu. Espot has highlighted that "the Government of Andorra has always valued the potential of the airport as a primarily strategic issue", and has predicted that with the necessary public and private involvement "it will become a true backbone of economic activity".
The airport will allow improve Andorra's competitiveness and become a new gateway for visitors, residents Y business. However, it is not a recent project, but it has been working with him since the beginning of the last decade. Specifically, since, after several failed attempts, in 2014 the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Government formalized the commitment of both parties to manage commercial operations through a Protocol of Understanding for co-management and promotion of the Airport.
Through the signing of this agreement, in January 2015, the Willingness of the Executive to play an active role in the management and operation of the airport and to create an infrastructure for public use to attract commercial flights, leaving behind the merely residual use for private aircraft or flying clubs. From then on it increased
The contest now awarded to Air Nostrum expects trips to be maintained for at least one year twice a week. As we said, the remuneration by the Executive to ensure the economic viability of the first year will be a maximum of 630,000 euros, although it will depend on the occupation of the aircraft in the more than 200 flights planned for the year, and may decrease depending on the actual occupation of the route.
Connection with more than 80 different destinations
The president of Air Nostrum, Carlos Bertomeu, expressed his satisfaction with the award, which plans to develop the connectivity between the Principality of Andorra and outdoor areas. He also highlighted the fact of including the country in Iberia's destinations, as well as in the Oneworld alliance. This will mean a connection with more than 80 state, European and intercontinental destinations to this airport, which is located in Alt Urgell (Lleida), 17 kilometers from the border with Andorra, and is managed by Aeroports de Catalunya.
So yesCombined flights will be made with origin or destination Andorra-La Seu from many other airports with a stopover in Madrid, since tickets are sold through the Iberia website. These first routes will be with the aim of promoting weekend ski and tourism getaways and longer stays. The first departure will be from Madrid at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, and the second from Andorra at 4:50 p.m. on Sunday. The company, however, does not rule out offering late-night schedules that facilitate the fact of being able to take more advantage of the daylight hours when the airport conditions allow it.
100% of employment on the inaugural flight
In this first plane that made the journey, 51 passengers plus crew traveled, the 100% of the banknotes that had been made available for this maiden flight. On the flight in the opposite direction, which took off for Madrid at approximately 5:00 p.m., a similar occupation has been achieved. Among the passengers who have made the inaugural flight there was a representation of the business and economic fabric of the country, as well as representatives of the different Andorran, Spanish and Catalan institutions.
The commercial director of Air Nostrum, Juan Corral, has pointed out that "the reservations for the first three weeks of operation show a response of online demand as expected, taking into account the current circumstances, with an average higher than 41%". Corral has also highlighted that, among the banknotes issued, there are combined to go to other final destinations such as the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, or various Italian capitals, among others. It has also detailed that more than 30% of the trips are made for a period that exceeds 7 days and that another 18% are for weekends.
Air Nostrum is the leading regional aviation company in Spain and one of the largest in Europe in its class. It currently operates more than 75,000 annual flights and moves more than 5 million passengers. It operates for the Iberia Group under the Iberia Regional Air Nostrum brand, bills more than 501 million euros and has some 1,400 employees.
70% average occupancy in the first month of flights
The Minister of the Presidency, Economy and Business, Jordi Gallardo, and the Secretary of State for the Economy, Èric Bartolomé, presented the first figures on the new route between the Andorra-La Seu and Madrid airports on February 10. It turns out that the average occupancy of flights is in the 68% of the seats sold, with an average of 34 passengers per route, and from the first flight until February 6, 1,089 people have used the line. Regarding the duration and punctuality, the minister has remarked that to date no flight has had to be delayed, canceled or diverted.
The average duration was shorter in most cases, the flights always arriving earlier than expected. According to the calculations carried out, the line is expected to reach the break-even point in June. The Secretary of State, for his part, has also announced that he is working with different actors to analyze whether there would be enough interest and demand to include a new connection day during the week.
A promising future
The Minister of the Presidency, Economy and Business, Jordi Gallardo, took advantage of his trip to Madrid to hold a bilateral meeting prior to the flight with the Spanish Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez. In addition to dealing with the various points of interest and cooperation between both States in matters of transport, Gallardo has argued that Andorra-La Seu airport can have its own customs point that allows the arrival of tourists from outside the Schengen area, in order to attract international tourists to the country.
Lastly, both the Head of Government and Minister Gallardo welcomed the start of regular flights and confirmed that, if the route works, the will is to open new strategic destinations in the future, connecting Andorra with France and Lisbon. This has also been declared by Air Nostrum, whose objective is to market this new service and explore its expansion to the airports of Lisbon and Paris.
Flight schedules are changed
The Government reported that as of March 27, the schedules of the flights on the route between the Andorra-La Seu d'Urgell airport and the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport will be modified. The new schedules modify all departures with the aim of maximizing the potential of weekend trips, both originating in Madrid and Andorra, adapting to the time slot considered to have the greatest potential demand by the operator during the summer season. Thus, the schedules are as follows:
- From March 27: departure from Madrid at 4:20 p.m. and departure from Andorra-La Seu d'Urgell at 6:40 p.m.
In the same way, The schedules are specifically adapted during the period from July 22 to September 4 in order to prioritize connectivity for longer stays during the summer vacation peak. This change, coinciding with summer time, will allow flights to operate in the afternoon connection window at Madrid airport, improving connectivity during layover times and increasing potential connections.
- From July 22 to September 4: departure from Madrid at 12:05 p.m. and departure from Andorra-La Seu d'Urgell at 2:20 p.m.
Due to the predominance of longer stays during this period of the year, the new schedule seeks to prioritize the midday window and enhance the connectivity of this time slot offered by Madrid airport.
- From September 5: returns to the departure time from Madrid at 4:20 p.m. and departure from Andorra-La Seu d'Urgell at 6:40 p.m.
The line holds for 2023
As pointed out by the Andorran Minister of Economy, Air Nostrum has once again obtained the award of the public tender to operate the Madrid-La Seu line. So that, the company dependent on Iberia will continue to provide direct flights from Madrid throughout the next year. In fact, due to the success in the occupation, it is possible that a third option will even be offered and it will be possible to fly three times a week from Madrid to La Seu.
Air Nostrum, for its part, is also satisfied because it is certainly one of the best flight line launches carried out by it. Plane flights to Andorra have been constant and no flight has had to be suspended throughout the year. In addition, the actual occupancy data have exceeded those previously estimated by 69%.