Updated on Friday, 10 September 2021 – 01:06
Catalan business organizations and the main sectors affected by the stoppage of the expansion of El Prat yesterday harshly criticized the Generalitat, which they blamed for the failure of the project.
Josep Tarradellas-El Prat AirportQuique GarcaEFE
The air sector has regretted the announcement of the Government to paralyze the expansion of the El Prat airport, which was going to involve an investment of 1,700 million euros by Aena, but which did not have the support of the Government because it meant impacting the area protected from La Ricarda. The airlines believe that this decision “is disappointing” because these works were the only way to decongest the barcelons airport.
“We are disappointed by the poor vision. The expansion aims to be able to take over the pre-pandemic traffic levels without delay, when they arrive. Also to grow the airport with transoceanic flights. Now it is not going to be able to grow any more, “laments Javier Gndara, president of ALA, the Air Lines Association, which represents more than 80 airlines operating in Spain.
The works were included in the investment plans of the Airport Regulation Document (DORA) of the airport manager Aena. The goal was expand the runway near the sea, which is where the planes take off. Being so short, large aircraft, those that make transatlantic voyages, had to exit through the landing strip (the runway near the mountain).
It operates backwards and for this reason, Barcelona was one of the most saturated and delayed airports before the pandemic. The expansion solved this problem and also made it possible to accommodate more long-haul flights. The idea was that it allowed to increase the capacity of 53 million passengers to 70 million.
The problem is that expanding this track implies touching the protected area. “This airport is very difficult to operate and the expansion solved this problem. It is no longer a matter of making it grow, but of decongesting it, “they explain from an airline.” When the flights arrive and the prepandemic traffic recovers, it will not be possible to assume without delays, “adds Gndara.
The sector defends that This was and is the only possible alternative, since changing the runways (taking off for the mountain runway, which is longer) would generate noise problems when flying over the urban area. This option has always been ruled out.
“You can’t have everything, you have to choose. It cannot be said that you want to expand El Prat but that you do not want to invade this area, when it is the only alternative there is, “says Gndara, who recalls that Aena had proposed to offset this impact.” When traffic recovers, delays will return and passengers will pay for it, “these sources point out.
The airlines also argue that this operation “was based on technical reasons, it was not a political issue”, and in this sense they regret the ups and downs of the central and autonomous governments. “The problem is that there are two coalition governments with different ideas”, point out sources from the sector, who put as an example the visit yesterday of the minister Yolanda Daz together with the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, to the area of La Ricarda.
Another objective of this work was to turn Barcelona airport into a large international hub, a hub for long-haul flights. Although Barajas is already in Spain, which is where flights to Latin America are operated from, the expansion gave Barcelona opportunities to grow.
The president of the organization, Josep Snchez Llibre, charged against the irresponsibility and negligence of the Government of the Generalitat in view of its position in the Barcelona Airport expansion proposal. We will not stand still before what the ruin of the Catalan economy, warned Snchez Llibre before the possibility of not having these 1,700 million investment in the airport.
Pimec, the organization that encompasses small and medium-sized Catalan companies. also I regret the suspension and demanded the Central Executive and the Generalitat responsibility to reach a new agreement to expand the infrastructure.
In a statement, he demanded a urgent meeting between governments and social agents to find a new way to expand the airport. The president of the employer’s association, Antoni Caeta, considered it unacceptable that the investment be withdrawn, and called not to renounce “the progress provided by public and private infrastructures, vital for the country and its development.
Joan Canadell, former president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and pro-independence businessman, now deputy for JxCat, criticized the Government on Twitter for breaking the agreement: After the disaster of the announcement of the stoppage of the airport expansion, it is a good time to speak of the #Cataluadels with in-depth and technical arguments and debates as a counterpoint to #Noall and easy populism.
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