Barcelona airport to double its capacity in the next few years

While most European airports operate at over-capacity, Barcelona's airport has the potential to 'expand' and reach up to 50 million travellers, according to the industry.

CNA / Laura Pous

June 17, 2010 11:46 PM

Barcelona's El Prat airport inaugurated its new terminal in 2009 and, after 12 months, the airport still has the potential to double its capacity and handle up to 50 million passengers. The president of AENA, the Spanish public airport operator, said on Thursday that El Prat is in an 'advantageous' situation in comparison with other European airports that operate at the edge of their capacity. Economy experts argue that the Catalan airport can become a truly international hub if only the Spanish Government would allow a more decentralised control of the infrastructure.
"A decentralised management of the Barcelona airport, through the Generalitat and City Hall, would help to take decisions more strategically and would attract more airlines with international flights to El Prat", said Joaquim Solà, professor of Regional Economy in the University of Barcelona (UB). Solà criticised the Spanish airports' strategy, which, according to him, condemns El Prat to be a 'subsidiary airport for Madrid Barajas'.

The professor said that Barcelona is a very 'attractive' airport for European airlines, and will expand more once the reforms in its second terminal are finished. Solà also argued that El Prat has the installations and the free space to become a hub for "many companies in the next 10 to 15 years", especially after Iberia decided to centralise all of its flights to Madrid.

100 airlines fly from Barcelona every day, and the airport offers 150 destinations, 28 of which are intercontinental. Last year, around 30 million passengers flew from El Prat airport, a number that it is expected to almost double in the near future. The number of intercontinental flights has increased to 75% in the last four years.