Iberia will launch non-stop flights from Madrid to both Tokyo and Shanghai for the winter 2016/17 schedule. The destinations will become Iberia’s first in Asia.

Both routes will be operated by Ibreria’s most modern aircraft – the twin-engine, wide-bodied Airbus A330-200, with capacity for up to 288 passengers on board – 19 in Business and 269 in Economy.

“The two new routes will be Iberia’s first foothold in the Asian travel market. The airline is undergoing a transformation to reduce costs, improve productivity and efficiency, while simultaneously expanding its revenue base and changing its company culture. The measures taken allow the airline to now start its routes to Asia in a profitable and sustainable way,” the airline said in a statement.

Pending government approval, a three-times weekly service to Tokyo, Japan will commence on October 18. Tickets for the route go on sale today and are available from 612 EUR (£467) return as an introductory offer. They will be the only direct flights linking the two countries and are in response to an increase in Japanese tourists visiting Spain.

Flights will depart Madrid on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 13.20, arriving at Tokyo’s Narita airport at 09.35 the following day. In the opposite direction, flights will depart Tokyo at 11.20, arriving in the Spanish capital at 18.20.

Iberia also announced a new route from Madrid to Shanghai, China. The launch date of the three-times weekly service will be announced once negotiations with Chinese authorities have been finalised and permits, as well as slots, have been granted.

There is currently no other direct service between Spain and Shanghai, while the number of Chinese citizens visiting Spain is also growing consistently – from January to September last year, it increased by 66% compared to 2014.

Commenting on the new routes, Luis Gallego, Iberia’s Chairman and CEO, said, “We have always wanted to be a global airline. With these routes to Tokyo and Shanghai, we take a step in that direction, while we bring closer our country to two economical and touristic powers such as Japan and China”