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Well-connected airports

Recerca | 25/11/2008

For individual management of Catalan airports

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In view of the expansions under way, the key to the future for Catalan airports does not involve so much the investment figures as the management formula. The current Spanish model, centralized to the advantage of Barajas, is the main obstacle for the country’s principal facilities. If the airports, and the population around them, want to be well-connected, they must be equipped with a more individual model.




Over the coming years a more crucial aspect than investments will be the agreements and negotiations that the airport managers establish with the airlines. This is maintained by the lecturer Xavier Fageda, in the report prepared for www.idees.net. Individualized management, the most common system in Europe and reference Anglo-Saxon countries, is a formula which allows the airport to negotiate with the carriers that it considers to be most appropriate. Priority elements such as intercontinental flights, goods traffic and the intermodality between planes, trains and ships also depend on this to a large extent.

Fageda explains that the current integrated management obliges the centralized Spanish body (AENA) to consider the needs of all Spanish airports. This prevents Barcelona airport from being able to promote alternative network companies to Iberia and the low-cost carriers, in order to promote long-distance traffic. Also, AENA is not in favour of Girona airport being able to reduce its current dependence on Ryanair or of Reus trying to attract scheduled flights.

These conclusions are drawn from a series of confirmations. Barcelona airport has little intercontinental traffic at present, way below the other major European airports. There is an excessive dependence on one airline, Iberia, which has decided to concentrate the bulk of its activity in Madrid-Barajas. Moreover, the foreseeable saturation of tourism and the competition from the high-speed train are important future threats. Girona airport depends on one airline which, at any moment, may decide to offshore its activity. Finally, in Reus airport the relative predominance of British charter flights is excessive.

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