Barcelona consolidates its position as air traffic hub for Southern Europe

President of Spanair offers first year results at new Terminal T1 at El Prat airport. The single hub policy at Catalan capital has led to an increase in the number of passengers over the last year

Alba Falcó Vila

June 15, 2010 10:11 PM

After Spanair’s decision to set up its HQ at the new Terminal 1 of the El Prat airport at Barcelona a year ago, the company's president, Ferran Soriano, gave a press conference in which he gave the results of the first year's performance. Soriano said the company is on the way to reaching the objective of making El Prat a hub for southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Moreover, 53.2% of the 7,142,611 Spanair passengers have travelled through Barcelona. Another positive result is that over the last twelve months, 18 new international routes have been opened from El Prat and the number of passengers with a Barcelona connexion stood at 439,508 passengers. According to Soriano, this demonstrates the airline's commitment to move from a dual hub policy through Barcelona and Madrid, to a single hub strategy through the Catalan capital.
Between June 2009 and May 2010, the airport recorded 27.5 million passengers, 700,000 fewer than last year. Despite the economic crisis, Spanair and its partners Star Alliance, increased their number of passengers by 233,000 and 252,000 respectively. According to the president of Spanair, these statistics show the “the company's commitment to the Catalan airport”.

Over the last year, the number of Spanair passengers with a Barcelona connection has also increased, rising from 86,000 in 2009 to 131,000 in 2010. Despite this increase, Soriano acknowledged that creating new international connections is a 'difficult' task because the schedules are not designed to allow an airport to act as a hub. However, Soriano made it clear that Spanair will continue to work “gradually” to ensure that Barcelona is the hub of southern Europe, and also to increase transit connections through the Catalan capital. In 2010 these figures rose by more than 50% for domestic flights and by 49% for international flights. As for international routes, Soriano pointed out that over the last 12 months Spanair has risen from 20 to 38 at El Prat, from which it has operated a total of 36,178 flights.

Ferran Soriano considers the operational capacity of the Catalan airport as “satisfactory”. However, he announced that Spanair and other companies are running tests for a new service which gives priority access at security checks when boarding to avoid queues and which could be up and running within four weeks. In some cases, this service shall be included in the ticket price while in others it could be paid as a bonus.

Soriano also emphasized that these positive statistics are of a double value: for coinciding with an economic crisis that has affected the whole sector and for coinciding with the restructuring process within the company carried out last year.