The European Parliament unanimously votes against Madrid-Barajas’ privileges to exclusively run intercontinental flights

The Spanish Government has signed 23 bilateral agreements with other countries that fix Madrid Barajas as the only airport in Spain where their flights can operate. This discriminates against Barcelona El Prat Airport by not permitting it to have international and intercontinental connections. The European Parliament has unanimously approved an amendment presented by a Liberal Catalan Nationalist MEP from CiU.


February 2, 2012 09:44 PM

Brussels (ACN).- On Thursday, the European Parliament unanimously voted against the privilege of Madrid Barajas to be the only Spanish airport where flights coming from 23 countries can land. The European Parliament has approved an amendment presented by the Liberal Catalan MEP, Ramon Tremosa, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU). He asked “the European Commission to make sure that bilateral agreements on air transportation between states should not give formal priority to any specific airport for flights between one country and another”. According to Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, the Spanish Government had signed 23 bilateral agreements, which are currently in place, with other countries were it states that their flights can only land or take off from Madrid Barajas Airport, discriminating other airports in Spain such as Barcelona El Prat. The 23 bilateral agreements reinforce Madrid Barajas as the only intercontinental hub in Spain, something heavily criticised by the Catalan political and business community. Despite the agreements Barcelona still has several intercontinental flights, whose number and routes from the Catalan airport have been growing over the last few years. AENA, the Spanish Airport Authority, confirmed to CAN the existence of the bilateral agreements, but they said that they have not impeded Barcelona having their own intercontinental connections.

On Thursday the European Parliament voted unanimously in favour of an amendment against the privileges of Madrid Barajas to be the only airport in Spain to run flights with 23 specific countries. The MEPs from the Economy and Finances Committee already complained about the issue. On November 22nd they approved the same amendment to a report on Competition presented by the German Christian-Democrat Andreas Schwab. Point number 53 of the report demands that neither the Spanish Government nor the other 26 members of the European Union impede airlines from other countries to operate in any airport they might choose. The study urges the European Commission to make sure free competition is respected on this issue.

The amendment is an initiative by Ramon Tremosa, from CiU. He said, “Spain maintains an airport system like Romania”. Tremosa is confident that “the European Commission might force” Spain to abandon this system and allow Barcelona Airport “to compete with better conditions” than currently with Madrid Barajas.

23 countries have a ban from the Spanish Government to operate from Barcelona EL Prat

According to a study from Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce from 2009, the Spanish State has signed 80 bilateral agreements with other countries on air transportation conditions. From the 80 agreements signed, which are all still in place, 42 include Barcelona El Prat Airport, 15 give total freedom to the other country’s airlines to choose the airport they want to operate from in Spain, and 23 only allow the use of Madrid Barajas. From these 23 countries, 11 are from Africa, 6 from Latin America, 4 from the Middle East, 1 from Oceania, and 1 from Europe. The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce said that the study demonstrates the political tools the Spanish Government has been using to discriminate against Barcelona El Prat Airport and impede it to concentrate intercontinental flights.

Sources from AENA, the Spanish Airport Authority, told ACN of the existence of the agreements. However they have ensured that “they do not represent any obstacle or real barrier any more”. AENA stated that, now, each time that an airline requests to operate from Barcelona El Prat, the request is accepted. “The direct flight of Singapore Airlines, together with Spanair, linking Barcelona and Sao-Paulo without passing through Madrid is an example of this”, they said.