The phrase is splayed on a ribbon around Hercules’ columns in Spain’s coat of arms, in a bid to encourage sailors to go through the seas and forget about the Greek mythological warning that the end of the world was right at the Strait of Gibraltar.
But 90 years ago, a Dornier Do 16 seaplane of the Spanish Air Force took Plus Ultra as its name before starting out on a journey that would make its four crew members the first pilots ever to fly from Spain to America by crossing the air space over the South Atlantic, with Buenos Aires, Argentina, as their final destination.
This year Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas tees off its scheduled regular flights to Latin America after some months of operations in ACMI and charters.
“Which Latin American destinations are included on the list of Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas’ regular flights?” was the first question asked to Julio Martinez, Executive Vice-President of Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas.
Julio Martinez: “We’ve chosen two important destinations for Spanish tourists, a couple of emblematic regions within the Latin American culture: Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, and Lima in Peru. The operations are scheduled to kick off in the early days of this summer.
What specific routes have you mapped out for Plus Ultra in the beginning of its regular flights?
Julio Martinez: Plus Ultra is in line with our Latin American vocation and it will exclusively offer regular commercial flights between Spain and Latin America and the Caribbean, so we’ll only have long-haul flights.
Following these initial routes to Santo Domingo and Lima, what other destinations do you have in mind in terms of a short and medium term expansion?
Julio Martinez: We’ll later fly to Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Santiago de Chile and Havana. As for Mexico D.F., Spanish authorities have already granted the designation to launch regular routes, since there are only two airlines per country, Mexico and Spain, designated to operate that route and our company is one of them.
Is Plus Ultra going to fly to destinations that don’t have nonstop flights from Spain as we speak?
Julio Martinez: Absolutely. We have signed an important charter agreement with Aquatravel, an outstanding Valencia-based Spanish travel wholesaler, to fly to Cayo Santa Maria and Holguin on a weekly basis, two Cuban destinations that are not being operated by any other Spanish company right now. This decision will help passengers fly directly to those travel destinations on the island of Cuba, as well as to Havana with a stopover in Holguin.
Does the contract inked with Aquatravel only entail flights to Cuba?
Julio Martinez: The agreement also comprises the route from Madrid to San Jose in Costa Rica, Panama City and Bangkok, in Thailand.
Can we assert that the implementation of these regular commercials flights does not mean that Plus Ultra is going to shut down its ACMI operations for third companies, just as it has done since it got its AOC last year?
Julio Martinez: We’ll keep on putting our smart money on that business line, as well as on charter flights. The operation of regular flights won’t change our initial business policy.
What code will be used by Plus Ultra Airlines?
Julio Martinez: PUE will be the code.
What aircraft does Plus Ultra have in its fleet right now?
Julio Martinez: We currently have two A340/300 airplanes, with 303 seats each, 18 in Business Class and 285 in Economy Class. All of these seats have standalone entertainment screens.
The beginning of regular flights and the growing demand toward Latin American and Caribbean destinations will certainly require the acquisition of more airplanes. What are your future plans on this matter?
Julio Martinez: We’re already negotiating the introduction of a third A340 this year, and we’ll bring in new A330/200s next year, according to the foreseen business plan.
Are you offering any inaugural promotion for passengers?
Julio Martinez: As a promotion for the opening of regular flights to the Dominican Republic and Peru, passengers that book their reservations before May 31, for all classes and destinations, will be allowed to carry three pieces of luggage of 23 kg each.
As for these reservations you’ve mentioned, what system are you going to use to sell your air tickets?
Julio Martinez: I’m pleased to announce that Plus Ultra has joined Amadeus, so the sale will be issued by means of electronic bills and BSP.
Does this move with Amadeus mean Plus Ultra is going to work with travel agencies?
Julio Martinez: Travel agencies are our customers. As much as 75 percent of all sales are channeled by means of travel agencies and we want to give them top priority, so they can sell our flights at the best prices and with the best commissions in the market.
What’s the difference between Plus Ultra and other similar companies from Spain and Latin America?
Julio Martinez: We offer the best quality-price relation in keeping with market demand, conscientious assistance, as well as a team of technicians and crew members that will make flights as enjoyable as possible for all passengers. Our seasoned captains have thousands of flight hours on this aircraft model.
As for the social responsibility of the company, what’s the role played by Plus Ultra as a company?
Julio Martinez: Plus Ultra has generated hundreds of jobs since its foundation a year ago. Both in Spain and in our target countries, we’ll follow that business policy, by supporting airlift, always in an effort to foster tourism and business development of all Latin American countries.