- Equatorial Guinea's government today accused the Spanish airline Iberia of discriminating its citizens on flights between Madrid and Malabo. The airline was given three weeks to explain itself or reduce Malabo flights.
There are increasing frictions between the government of Equatorial Guinea and the airline Iberia, the principal means of transport between the Central African country and Europe, through its flights to the Spanish capital.
Already last week, the Equatoguinean government threatened Iberia it would be obliged to cancel two of its weekly flights between Madrid and Malabo, if the Spanish airline did not reduce ticket prices and improved travel conditions.
Malabo officials provided a comparison of the prices prevailing on other Iberia flight connections and questioned the fact that, the 4,263 kilometres trip to Malabo was more expensive than flights connecting Madrid with San Salvador, which lies more than twice as far away (8,648 kilometres).
Equatoguinean Transport Minister Vicente Ehate Tomi delivered a "letter of protest" to Iberia representation in Malabo, in which he warned that "if, within one month Iberia does not satisfy the demands of its customers, the Ministry of Transport will be forced to withdraw licensing for two weekly flights to Malabo."
Today, however, the tone of the conflict seems to have further heated up. In a statement to the press by the government, Minister Ehate warns Iberia that "if you do not meet any of the demands, the government withdraws two of the weekly flights Iberia has on Malabo."
"We have offers from many companies that now are seeking to fly to our country, which right now is a destination for many travellers, and that will continue to grow," Minister Ehate told Iberia. He named no names of the allegedly interested airlines.
By now, the list of complaints by the Equatoguinean government about Iberia's services has grown. Today's statement by Minister Ehate also claims that Iberia employees are giving an inferior service to Equatoguinean citizens than to other nationalities. Government had received many complaints and protests from travellers feeling discriminated against, it was said.
The Minister was angry by "the contemptuous treatment that is given travellers from Equatorial Guinea. Money has no colour, there can be no discrimination between the passengers of one or another country!" the Transport Minister stressed.
"We have been talking to Iberia for some time and hope to fix these problems, but if not, we will take action," concluded Minister Ehate.
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