Cutbacks at Iberia could force Madrid’s Barajas airport to allow other airlines to use the terminal previously reserved for the exclusive use of the Spanish flag carrier and its Oneworld alliance partners, Spain’s industry minister said on Thursday.

Loss-making Iberia, part of the International Airlines Group (IAG) along with British Airways, is undergoing a major restructuring and has shed thousands of staff and a number of routes to cut costs, reducing traffic at the airport.

“Terminal 4 is not being used to full capacity,” Jose Manuel Soria said in an interview with radio station Onda Cero. A” country like Spain needs a lot of connections, we don’t just need strong Spanish airlines but also companies flying under other flags.”

The terminal was commissioned by Spain’s airport authority as part of expansion plans to turn Barajas into a leading European hub. But Spain’s fortunes have declined since the terminal opened in 2006.

Passenger numbers at Barajas airport so far this year are down by almost 4.5 million on the same period last year, largely because of Iberia’s reduced services.

In the first eight months of the year, 26.6 million travelers used the airport, a 14.3 percent decline year on year. In August, Barcelona’s El Prat airport overtook Madrid in monthly traffic statistics.

IAG said in August that a recovery was beginning to take hold at Iberia thanks to the restructuring. Losses at Iberia, Europe’s biggest carrier to Latin America, fell to 35 million euros ($47.6 million) in the three months to June 30, from 93 million euros in the same quarter last year.

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Tags: iberia, madrid
Photo Credit: Check-in area at Terminal 4 in Madrid's Barajas airport. Iberia Airlines / Flickr