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Aviaco DC-9-32 EC-BIO FCO May 1996.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded18 February 1948 (1948-02-18)
Ceased operations1 September 1999
Operating basesMadrid-Barajas Airport
Parent companyIberia
HeadquartersMadrid, Spain
Key peopleElías Ugartechea Isusi
Former head office of Aviaco[1]
Former head office of Aviaco[1]

Aviación y Comercio, S.A., doing business as Aviaco, was a Spanish airline headquartered in the Edificio Minister in Madrid.[1]

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Aviaco Convair 440 at Barcelona Airport in 1970
Aviaco Convair 440 at Barcelona Airport in 1970

The carrier was formed by Bilbaíno businessmen as a freight company on 18 February 1948 (1948-02-18).[2] A group of local bankers provided the necessary funds for the acquisition of six Bristol 170s. Given that Iberia had exploited the most profitable domestic and international routes since the early 1940s, Aviaco restricted its operations to secondary routes. Scheduled passenger services started between Bilbao and Barcelona and Madrid. The first international route was AlgiersPalmaMarseilles, while Canary Islands-based flights were launched shortly afterwards. In 1954, the airline won the contract for operating an airmail service between Madrid and Barcelona. In 1955, the airline's headquarters were transferred from Bilbao to Madrid, and the Instituto Nacional de Industria (INI) took over a majority interest in the company.[3]:992

Sud Caravelle 10R of Aviaco at Madrid Barajas Airport in 1973
Sud Caravelle 10R of Aviaco at Madrid Barajas Airport in 1973

The financial structure of the company was re-organised in 1959, when the capital was halved to ESP 50 million, whereas Iberia injected ESP 100 million, becoming the owner of ⅔ of the shares, with the balance being split between the initial shareholders and INI. The move permitted Aviaco to acquire three second-hand Convair 440s from Sabena.[3]:993 These were the airline's first pressurized aircraft. By April 1960 (1960-04), the company had 702 employees; a fleet of three Bristol 170s, three Convair 440s, five Heron IIs and five Languedocs served a route network that included Barcelona, Brussels, Casablanca, Las Palmas, Madrid, Oran, Palma, Tanger, Tenerife and Tetouan.[4] Two Convair 240s were bought from Varig in 1962.[5] In early 1964, the carrier signed a contract with Aviation Traders for the conversion of two of its DC-4s into Carvairs;[6] the first converted airframe was delivered in June the same year.[7]

By 1965, a joint Aviaco-Iberia board was set up to coordinate aviation policies, which ensured that Aviaco and Iberia routes did not compete with each other.

An Aviaco Douglas DC-8-63 on short final to Zurich Airport in 1981.
An Aviaco Douglas DC-8-63 on short final to Zurich Airport in 1981.

In 1973, Aviaco became the 46th airline worldwide in ordering the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30,[8] when it acquired six aircraft of the type.[9] In August 1974 (1974-08),[10] two more DC-9-30s were ordered.[11] By March 1975 (1975-03), the fleet consisted of four Caravelle 10Rs, five DC-8-50s, six DC-9-30s and six F-27s, whereas two more DC-9-30s were on order. At this time, the carrier had 764 employees and the route network included Algiers, Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cordoba, Ibiza, La Coruña, Las Palmas, Madrid, Mahon, Málaga, Oran, Oviedo, Palma, Pamplona, Santander, Santiago, San Sebastian, Sevilla, Tenerife, Valencia and Vigo.[2] In July 1975 (1975-07),[12] four DC-9-33CFs were ordered;[13] these four aircraft were handed over to the company within a month, with the first of them entering the fleet in May 1976 (1976-05),[14] and the last in June.[15] Valued at US$40 million, four more DC-9-30s were acquired in 1978.[16] That year, Aviaco lost almost ESP 453 million.[17] Another loss, equivalent to £3 million, was recorded for 1979, but these financial results were reverted in 1980, with the airline making a £5.5 million profit.[18]

An Aviaco Douglas DC-9-34 at Aberdeen Airport in 1986.

At March 1980 (1980-03), the company had more than 1200 employees and it was 90%-owned by INI.[19] Early in the decade, Aviaco incorporated five DC-8-63s that were phased out from Iberia's mainline fleet due to a renewal programme.[20] Flight International informed in 1983 that the company had an initial order for 20 CN-235s,[21]:1497 and that the order was boosted to 22 aircraft of the type late that year.[22] By March 1985 (1985-03), the number of employees had grown to 1,751; the fleet comprised two DC-8-50Fs, 16 DC-9-30s, four DC-9-30Fs and nine Fokker F27-600s; the 22 CN-235s were still on order.[23] During the decade, most of Aviaco shares were acquired by its competitor Iberia. From that time, Aviaco ran the less important domestic routes while Iberia served the international destinations and the most important national routes, such as the shuttle service Madrid-Barcelona. All the Aviaco technical, marketing and financial resources were transferred to Iberia. During this time, Aviaco had a fleet of Douglas DC-9 planes, which were painted in blue and white livery.

An Aviaco MD-88 at Madrid Barajas Airport in 1993.
An Aviaco MD-88 at Madrid Barajas Airport in 1993.

During the 1990s, the AsturiasLondon Stansted, ValladolidParis, Zaragoza–London Stansted and Zaragoza–Paris routes were added to the existing ones radiating from Madrid and serving Almeria, Badajoz, Barcelona, Bilbao, Fuerteventura, Granada, Ibiza, Jerez, La Coruña, Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Málaga, Mallorca, Menorca, Murcia, Oviedo, Palma, Pamplona, Reus, San Sebastian, Santander, Seville, Tenerife, Valencia, Valladolid, Vigo, Vitoria and Zaragoza. At March 1994 (1994-03), Aviaco had 1,696 employees and a fleet of eight Fokker F-27s, 20 McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and 13 MD-88s.[24] Iberia's shareholding in Aviaco was boosted from 33% to 100% in 1998,[25] when the Spanish flag carrier took control of 67% of the shares that were held by the SEPI.[26][27] Since then, Iberia plans for Aviaco were to absorb it;[27] this occurred on 1 September 1999 (1999-09-01).[28]

During its heyday, Aviaco ("AO") was well known for operating charter flights primarily from Palma, Tenerife and Girona to almost every provincial airport in Europe, providing uplift for all major tour operators, such as Thomson, Enterprise, Cosmos and ILG. In fact, ILG's combined operations (Intasun, Lancaster, Global and Sol) signed an exclusive deal with AO to operate charters from all UK airports not covered by its own Air Europe brand. Aviaco earned itself a bad reputation in the international travel sector; it became known for its old aircraft (DC-9's), mediocre service and delays. However, the airline gained something of a cult status amongst travellers, who ultimately saw their Aviaco flight as part of the holiday experience.

During the mid-late 1980s, Aviaco sub-chartered aircraft from IBERIA to provide seasonal added capacity to its DC-9 fleet, which saw weekly forays of Iberia Boeing 727s, A300s and even Boeing 747-200s operating charter services on Aviaco's behalf into airports across Europe that had otherwise only handled 737 and DC9 sized aircraft up to that point.

Accidents and incidents

Date Location Aircraft Tail number Aircraft damage Fatalities Description Refs
24 November 1949 SpainMenorca Bristol 170 EC-ADK W/O 0 Overshot the runway on landing at Mahón Airport. [29]
4 December 1953 SpainGuadarrama Bristol 170 EC-AEG W/O 23/33 Crashed at Guadarrama. The aircraft was operating a domestic scheduled Bilbao–Madrid passenger service. [30]
29 September 1956 SpainTenerife SNCASE Languedoc EC-AKV W/O 1 The aircraft that was completing a domestic scheduled MálagaTenerife North passenger service, when it crashed on approach to Los Rodeos Airport, killing one person on the ground. [31]
9 May 1957 SpainMadrid Bristol 170 EC-ADI W/O 37/37 While on approach to Madrid-Barajas Airport on a domestic scheduled passenger service from Santiago de Compostela as Flight 111, the aircraft entered a spin, crashed and caught fire. [32]
4 December 1958 SpainGuadarrama SNCASE Languedoc EC-ANR W/O 21/21 The aircraft had departed Vigo on a scheduled passenger service to Madrid with 21 people on board. Crashed into Sierra de Guadarrama and burst into flames, killing all occupants. Icing was the apparent cause of the accident. [33][34]
13 August 1973 SpainA Coruña Sud Aviation Caravelle EC-BIC W/O 86 One of the deadliest aircraft crashes in mainland Spain occurred when Aviaco Flight 118, a Sud Aviation Caravelle, hit eucalyptus trees on approach to A Coruña Airport due to pilot error, crashed to the ground, striking several houses, and then burned out, killing all 85 people on board and one person on the ground. [35]
7 December 1983 SpainMadrid DC-9-32 EC-CGS W/O 93 The Madrid runway disaster took place at Barajas Airport when an Aviaco Douglas DC-9-32 that was taxiing for departure to Santander entered the active runway at the same time an outbound Iberia Boeing 727-200 was taking off for Rome, running along the very same runway the Aviaco aircraft had taxied into. The two aircraft collided in dense fog, killing all 42 occupants of the DC-9 and 51 of the 93 people aboard the Boeing 727. [36][37]
30 March 1992 SpainGranada DC-9-32 EC-BYH W/O 0 Hard landing at Granada Airport. The aircraft was completing a domestic Madrid–Granada passenger service as Flight 231. [38]
21 March 1994 SpainVigo DC-9-32 EC-CLE W/O 0 One of the wings hit approach lights on landing at Vigo Airport. The aircraft landed some 50 metres (160 ft) short of the runway, causing both main gears to separate and the airframe to slide for almost 600 metres (2,000 ft) before coming to rest. A fire erupted due to a fuel leak. The aircraft was completing a domestic Madrid–Vigo passenger service as Flight 260. [39]

See also


  1. ^ a b "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 16 May 1981. p. 1411. "Maudes 51, Edificio Minister, Madrid 3, Spain."
  2. ^ a b "World airline directory – Aviacion y Comercio SA (Aviaco)". Flight International. 108 (3445): 474. 20 March 1975. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ "Airlines of the World – Aviacon [sic] y Comercio SA". Flight. 77 (2665): 493. 8 April 1960. Archived from the original on 17 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Air commerce – Convair 240 Purchase". Flight International. 81 (2762): 239. 15 February 1962. Archived from the original on 15 September 2013. Aviaco has bought two Convair 240s from the Brazilian carrier Varig.
  6. ^ "Air commerce – Aviaco's order for Carvairs". Flight International. 85 (2867): 269. 20 February 1964. Archived from the original on 15 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Air commerce – Aviaco's Carvair". Flight International. 86 (2887): 49. 9 July 1964. Archived from the original on 15 September 2013. On June 20 the Spanish independent Aviaco took delivery of their first Carvair from Aviation Traders.
  8. ^ "Air transport". Flight International. 103 (3341): 414. 22 March 1973. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Aviaco, the Madrid-based scheduled-service and charter airline, has bought six McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s. The aircraft will be delivered to Aviaco, the 46th airline to buy DC-9s, between June 1974 and early 1975.
  9. ^ "Airlines updated". Flight International. 104 (3358): 85. 19 July 1973. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Aviaco has ordered six DC-9-30s for delivery from June 1974 onwards.
  10. ^ "Air transport". Flight International. 106 (3416): 235. 29 August 1974. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013. Aviaco, the Spanish charter carrier, has ordered two DC-9-30s, its seventh and eighth. They are due for delivery in July and September next year.
  11. ^ "Air transport – World airlines update". Flight International. 106 (3422): 513. 17 October 1974. Archived from the original on 30 November 2012. Aviaco has ordered two more DC-9-30s, bringing its fleet of the type to eight. The two new aircraft will be delivered in July and September next year.
  12. ^ "Airliner market". Flight International. 108 (3462): 74. 17 July 1975. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013. Aviaco has ordered four McDonnell Douglas DC-9-33s for delivery in time for the 1976 season.
  13. ^ "Airliner market". Flight International. 108 (3473): 460. 2 October 1975. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013. Aviaco has announced its order for four extended-range DC-9-33CFs which are scheduled for delivery in May and June next year. Range is increased by 22 per cent and the higher thrust Pratt & Whitney JT8D-17 turbofan engines are used.
  14. ^ "Airliner market". Flight International. 109 (3506): 1343. 22 May 1976. Archived from the original on 20 September 2013. Aviaco has taken delivery of the first of four McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30CFs.
  15. ^ "Airliner market". Flight International. 109 (3511): 1693. 26 June 1976. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Aviaco has accepted the fourth and last of its latest McDonnell Douglas DC-9-34CFs; the first was delivered in May.
  16. ^ "Airliner market". Flight International. 114 (3519): 335. 29 July 1978. Archived from the original on 20 September 2013. McDonnell Douglas reports the sale of four extended-range DC-9-30s worth a total of $40 million to Aviaco, for handover in the last quarter of next year.
  17. ^ "Short hauls". Flight International. 115 (3661): 1640. 19 May 1979. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Aviaco lost Ptas452.8 million in 1978.
  18. ^ "Air transport – Short haul..." Flight International. 120 (3770): 413. 8 August 1981. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Spanish charter and scheduled airline Aviaco has announced a Ptas 44.9 million (£5.5 million) profit for 1980, compared with a £3 million loss in 1979.
  19. ^ "World airline directory – Aviacion y Comercio (Aviaco)". Flight International. 118 (3716): 291. 26 July 1980. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013.
  20. ^ "Air transport – Short haul..." Flight International. 119 (3751): 898. 28 March 1981. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Paris report – Commuter-builders spoil for the fight". Flight International. 123 (3865): 1623. 4 June 1983. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Aviaco, the Spanish regional, has just upped its CN-235 order from 20 to 22.
  23. ^ "World airline directory – Aviaco (Aviacion y Comercio)". Flight International. 127 (3953): 56. 30 March 1985. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 22 November 2013.
  24. ^ "World airline directory – Aviaco (Aviación y Comercio)". Flight International. 145 (4413): 65. 23–29 March 1994. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013.
  25. ^ "Iberia invests". Flightglobal. 1 April 1998. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013.
  26. ^ "Iberia gets down to business". Flightglobal. 1 April 1999. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013.
  27. ^ a b Kingsley-Jones, Max (3 March 1999). "Iberia will scrap Aviaco brand when pilots agree to merger". Flightglobal. Madrid. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Iberia prepares to float". Flightglobal. 1 October 1999. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. On 1 September, Iberia fully absorbed its subsidiary, Aviaco, involving the transfer of 1,500 workers and the airline's entire fleet of McDonald Douglas aircraft. 
  29. ^ Accident description for EC-ADK at the Aviation Safety Network
  30. ^ Accident description for EC-AEG at the Aviation Safety Network
  31. ^ Accident description for EC-AKV at the Aviation Safety Network
  32. ^ Accident description for EC-ADI at the Aviation Safety Network
  33. ^ Accident description for EC-ANR at the Aviation Safety Network
  34. ^ "Brevities". Flight. 74 (2604). 19 December 1958. Archived from the original on 15 September 2013. A Languedoc of the Spanish private airline Aviaco crashed on December 4 in the Guadarrama Mountains, about 35 miles from Madrid, en route from that city to Vigo.
  35. ^ Accident description for EC-BIC at the Aviation Safety Network
  36. ^ Accident description for EC-CGS at the Aviation Safety Network
  37. ^ Accident description for EC-CFJ at the Aviation Safety Network
  38. ^ Accident description for EC-BYH at the Aviation Safety Network
  39. ^ Accident description for EC-CLE at the Aviation Safety Network

External links

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