Airline Awaiting Ok To Provide Miamimadrid Service
By Eric Kalis
Discount carrier Air Madrid is awaiting US Department of Transportation approval to offer four flights each week between Miami and Madrid beginning Oct. 29.
Bill Mosley, a spokesman for the department, said the low-cost airline submitted applications June 30 for a foreign air carrier permit and exemption to begin flying out of Miami International Airport this fall. A decision from the department is due July 21, he said.
The Miami-Madrid route includes a layover in Barcelona. Along with the Miami service, the two direct flights a week Air Madrid plans between Los Angeles and Madrid will mark the airline’s first operations in the US.
Air Madrid, founded in December 2003 by a group of companies in the tourism sector, primarily offers discount flights for leisure travelers between Europe and Central and South America on a fleet of nine planes. According to the application to the Department of Transportation, the airline will add six Airbus aircraft to its fleet.
The airline will compete with American Airlines and Iberia, the only two companies offering direct flights between Miami and Madrid. While all three have three-star ratings, Air Madrid’s lack of exposure in the US leaves the airline fighting an uphill battle, said Olga Ramudo, president and CEO of Express Travel in Coral Gables.
"The success of Air Madrid in Miami will depend on the fares," Ms. Ramudo said. "American Airlines is normally preferred because travelers can accrue mileage for any place they want to go in the world. Air Madrid is not too well-known here, so they will have to come up with a competitive package."
Air Madrid would have to compete with American and Iberia’s round-trip winter fares of $650, Ms. Ramudo said. A summer round trip for either airline costs about $1,000, she said.
"The winter is when specials usually come out, so Air Madrid really needs to offer reduced rates."
Passengers praised Air Madrid on an Internet blog for its low fares but noted that delays happen frequently because of the carrier’s small fleet. According to the airline’s application, Air Madrid has not been cited for safety violations or fatal accidents in two years of flying.