The United States and Spain agreed Friday to allow American Airlines and United Airlines to begin service to Madrid on Saturday and to let Delta Air Lines fly to Spain from Atlanta. Under a memorandum of understanding reached by both sides, Continental Airlines may offer daily service to Madrid from Newark (N.J.) International Airport beginning in 1993.
The Spanish government had refused to allow American and United to operate the flights, which are authorized by a bilateral aviation agreement. In response, the Transportation Department threatened last week to suspend Iberia Airlines' right to serve Miami and New York from Madrid. Iberia, one of Europe's leading carriers, also serves Chicago and Los Angeles.
"We held firm and insisted that our carriers be allowed to exercise their rights under the bilateral agreement, and this agreement achieves our objectives," Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner said. "At the same time, we achieved a major expansion of service between the two countries and maintained our positive aviation relationship with Spain."
Spain, which had wanted greater rights for itself for allowing such powerful U.S. carriers into its markets, won the right to serve three more American cities, which have not been designated, increasing its total to 11.
Spain also got the valuable right to fly from American points to other countries. For example, it will be able to fly from Miami to Latin America.