What happened to Volotea’s Gibraltar – Bilbao flight plans?
At the end of March, Simple Flying reported that Volotea was planning to launch direct flights between Gibraltar and Bilbao in Spain. Today all traces of the route have disappeared from airport and airline websites, but what happened to the route?
With the exception of a currently suspended connection between Gibraltar and Morocco, Gibraltar airport is exclusively served by UK carriers from UK airports. At one point, the airport had a direct connection to Madrid, thanks to Iberia, but that didn’t last. Now an attempt to reconnect Gibraltar and Spain by air appears to have failed.
All traces have disappeared
It seems that all traces of the new road between Gibraltar and Bilbao have been erased from existence. First, a press release announcing the launch of the route on the Gibraltar Airport website is no longer available for viewing.
The situation seems similar on the Volotea site. At the time of the announcement, it was possible to search for flights to and from Gibraltar in the airline’s search engine. Today Gibraltar and its three-letter code GIB do not even show up as a valid airport, let alone search for flights. Commenting on the matter, a spokesperson for Volotea told Simple Flying:
“Volotea announced a new connection between Bilbao and Gibraltar for July 2, convinced that by that date the necessary government authorization to operate this link would have already been published. As it appears that this permit will not be certain on that date, it has been chosen to withdraw it from sale. “
What was the plan?
Regional carrier Volotea had planned to launch a direct, non-stop air link between Spain and Gibraltar. Scheduled for launch on July 2, the route would have been a round trip from Bilbao twice a week. Until September, the airline would have aimed to offer 8,200 seats on the link with its Airbus A319.
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The route would have been the first regular connection between Spain and Gibraltar since Iberia withdrew its connection from Madrid in 2008. This, itself, had been launched in December 2006. According to FlightGlobal, it appears that ‘ Iberia has decided to withdraw from Gibraltar. .
In the case of Volotea, it appears that the airline is struggling to obtain the necessary clearance to launch the route. According to The Guardian, Gibraltar is expected to become part of the Schengen zone. This would remove the border between the city and Spain.
In addition, Gibraltar could benefit from EU programs and policies, Spain being its guarantor. Perhaps this could one day lead to the establishment of regular services between Gibraltar and Spain once again.
What do you think of the supposed cancellation of the Volotea link between Gibraltar and Bilbao? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below.