Iberia Will Soon Provide More Frequent Service to Tokyo, Tour Operators Say

TOKYO – Tourism operators selling tickets on Spanish flagship carrier Iberia’s newly resumed Madrid-Tokyo route, which began operating Wednesday for the first time in 18 years and provides the only direct air link between Spain and Japan, say they expect the airline will soon begin offering more frequent service between those two cities.

Tourism officials made those remarks to members of the media gathered at a ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in Japan to mark the milestone flight, an event attended by Iberia Chairman and CEO Luis Gallego, representatives of the tourism offices of the Community of Madrid and the Madrid municipal government and Spanish Ambassador to Japan Gonzalo de Benito.

Iberia’s return to Tokyo with three weekly flights operated by the most modern aircraft in its fleet was the result of a great deal of persistence, Gallego said, expressing confidence that the Madrid-Tokyo route would help give a boost to bilateral economic, cultural and social relations.

“We’re going to give our full effort and commitment to this city and this country so that happens,” he added.

Gallego added that with the resumption of direct flights the company was taking another step in building the new Iberia, which has undergone a transformation process over the past three years.

“We’re halfway to achieving the profitability that our shareholders expect from us and the quality our customers deserve, but milestones like today’s encourage us to pursue that goal with even more determination and greater expectations,” he said.

De Benito stressed that the resumption of the Madrid-Tokyo route was a great day for bilateral relations and would offer Japanese passengers the chance to travel on to destinations in Latin America from Madrid’s Barajas airport, Europe’s main hub for flights to that region.

The ambassador noted that Spain and Japan had set a goal of establishing a direct air link three years ago and that thanks to Iberia that was now a reality.

He also hailed the efforts of the Japan External Trade Organization, an independent government agency that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the world.

Jin Oki, a protege of late Spanish master flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, gave a recital during the event.

But the presence of two-time world champion figure skater Javier Fernandez generated the most buzz.

He traveled on the inaugural flight along with his girlfriend, Japanese former figure skater Miki Ando, as the Community of Madrid’s tourism ambassador to Japan, a country where Fernandez is a celebrity.

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