EFEMexico City

The chief executive of Spanish flagship airline Iberia says the carrier has its sights set on further growth in Mexico and is looking at offering a direct flight between Madrid and the western Mexican city of Guadalajara.

Luis Gallego made the announcement here Thursday while presenting the company's new brand image following a cost-cutting restructuring that followed its 2011 merger with British Airways, a tie-up that resulted in the creation of London-based holding company International Airlines Group.

Madrid-based Iberia has flown to and from Mexico since 1950 and considers that country a highly important destination, the CEO said.

The airline has increased the number of seats on its Madrid-Mexico City connection by 11 percent over the past year to around 482,000, higher than the average for Iberia's long-haul routes, and that number could go higher if it follows through on its current expansion strategy.

"We fly from Madrid to Mexico City, but we're considering the possibility of other cities in Mexico. The one that seems like it'll be the earliest (addition) is Guadalajara," Gallego added.

The executive said the airline also was examining the viability of a direct flight between Madrid and the northern Mexican industrial city of Monterrey, although he noted that the airline could not guarantee that direct service would be extended to any of the possible alternatives.

In addition to its non-stop flights between Madrid and the Mexican capital, Iberia also offers connecting flights from 36 Mexican cities through a codeshare agreement with Mexican budget carrier Interjet, including Guadalajara, Cancun, Monterrey, Acapulco, Campeche, Ciudad Juarez, Oaxaca, Tijuana and Veracruz.

Passengers who arrive in Madrid from Mexico City can then continue on to more than 90 cities in Europe, including 28 in Spain, as well as destinations in Africa and the Middle East serviced by Iberia.

With 250 weekly flights to 19 cities in 15 countries, Iberia is the global air-traffic leader between Europe and Latin America.

The airline also has recently extended its service to new destinations in the region, including a triangle route launched this year that links Madrid and the Colombian cities of Cali and Medellin.