Spanish new low-cost airline Iberia Express launched

A model of the new Iberia Express A model of the new Iberia Express, which is now taking flights

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Spain's Iberia has launched a new entry in Europe's competitive market for low-cost airlines.

The new airline, Iberia Express, begins on Sunday with prices starting at 25 euros (£21) for a one-way ticket.

Iberia Express will cover Spanish cities including Madrid and the islands such as Ibiza, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

The launch comes after Spain's fourth-largest airline Spanair collapsed in January, stranding 20,000 passengers.

Iberia is owned by the same parent company as British Airways.

The low-cost Iberia Express has 500 staff and has a fleet of four Airbus A320 aircraft, according to Iberia Express chief executive Luis Gallego.

"The containment of costs will allow Iberia Express to grow and compete with the low-cost operators," he said.

Labour dispute

The new airline's website is advertising for pilots and cabin crew.

The airline will initially fly to the cities of Vigo, Santiago and Granada, as well as Menorca, Ibiza, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and La Palma.

Later, it will expand to the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Greece, Latvia and the Netherlands, Mr Gallego said.

The airline is also the subject of a labour dispute, with the union representing Iberia's 1,600 pilots fearing it will lead to job losses.

Spanair's collapse cause misery for its passengers

The dispute with the union led to 12 days of work stoppages in December and January to protest the low-cost airline.

Separately, the Spanish government has said it is taking legal action over the collapse of Spanair, saying it could be fined 9m euros.

In 2010, Spanair reported an operating loss of 115m euros.

After Spanair's collapse, Irish rival Ryanair said it was examining opportunities in Spain. "We certainly see it as an opportunity to expand our base," it said.

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