Get ready to eat paella on British Airways flights
British Airways (www.ba.com) passengers could be greeted onboard by Spanish-speaking pilots and served tapas and paella in future following the airline's merger with Iberia (www.iberia.com)
The deal, which will create Europe's biggest airline, could also lead to more flights for UK-based passengers.
British Airways' boss Willie Walsh said the airline would be able to offer passengers 59 new destinations, while Iberia passengers will get 96 new ones, as the airlines merge their networks.
However, the downside of the deal is that British Airways may ditch some long-haul flights which compete directly with those of Iberia, preferring instead to fly passengers to Madrid where they can transfer on to the Spanish airline's services.
Most under threat are flights to South America. BA currently operates direct daily services to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires and to Sao Paolo in Brazil, plus three flights a week to Rio de Janeiro.
As Iberia already has a number of flights to South America, BA may decide to drop its services to Argentina and Brazil and use the aircraft to add more profitable flights to the Far East and North America.
A BA spokesman said this week: By combining the relative strengths of the two networks, with our strong position in North America Asia and Africa and Iberia's strong position in Latin America we can offer customers more destinations and better frequencies via both London and Madrid.""
The merger is expected to secure the future of the two loss-making airlines by creating cost-saving opportunities and greater buying power for essentials such as fuel, aircraft and onboard catering.