48% more Barcelona airport passengers last year on 2020

Almost 19m passengers departed or landed in El Prat, down two-thirds compared to pre-pandemic levels

A plane taking off from the Barcelona airport (by Àlex Recolons)
A plane taking off from the Barcelona airport (by Àlex Recolons) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 11, 2022 11:39 AM

Barcelona airport closed 2021 with 18,874,896 passengers, a 48.2% increase in passengers on 2020 when lockdowns and border closures were far more commonplace. 

However, data provided on Tuesday by Spain's airport authority, Aena, shows a 64.2% decrease compared to 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, when some 52 million people landed in or departed from Barcelona El Prat. 

In the last 12 months, Barcelona's airport has registered 163,679 operations, 52.5% less than in 2019 but 33.5% more than 2020. 

Data released confirmed that Barcelona remained the second busiest airport in the network in terms of passenger numbers, behind Madrid Barajas, which had 24,135,200 passengers.

Airport authorities hope to recover pre-pandemic travel figures by 2024, although this, along with the potential expansion of the Barcelona El Prat facilities, is a hotly contested issue in the Catalan capital. 

Plans to build a new satellite terminal and extend one of the existing runways were shelved in September following disagreements between Spanish and Catalan authorities.

This was celebrated by environmentalists, who were concerned with how construction would impact the La Ricarda lagoon nature reserve area, as well as neighborhood housing organizations that are against mass tourism. 

Filling the Sink podcast

Catalan society and local authorities remain divided on the expansion of the facility, with business leaders arguing it is essential for the economy and environmentalists warning against the potential destruction of the Llobregat delta as well as increased carbon emissions.  

Press play below to listen to Catalan News' Filling the Sink podcast episode, released on July 10, before plans were suspended, on the debate surrounding the Barcelona El Prat airport.