BARCELONA – The expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat Airport continues to generate debate. The private sector continues to insist on the expansion and proposes the creation of a marine runway after the watered-down political agreement on the “modernization” of the aerodrome has been made public.
AENA’s initial proposal consisted of expanding the third runway by 500 metres. This new runway would occupy land owned by it adjacent to the La Ricarda private estate, declared a protected area. This option was discarded due to the opposition of environmental associations. These asserted that it endangered the ecosystem of the Llobregat delta. Consequently, the option is contrary to climate commitments. Now, a group headed by engineer Joaquim Coello is back with the idea of a runway over the sea. This would only be used for take-offs.
Track rising 10 metres above the sea
Crónica Global, the group behind the new plan, estimates they could built it in just four years. They would link the runway they propose to the rest of the aerodrome using a walkway. Therefore, it would not be necessary to build a new terminal, as AENA’s idea was. The track would occupy 3,500 meters and would be located 1,500 meters from the coast, rising 10 meters above the sea. Its cost would be around 2,200 million euros. This is a higher figure than the 1,700 million proposed by the airport entity.
Proposal does not convince everyone
The Col·legi d’Economistes de Catalunya (CEC) considers that this extension would serve to position Barcelona and Spain as intercontinental references. Mas Colell, former Minister of Economy of the Generalitat, has indicated that it is a “serious and brilliant proposal” and that, despite invading the La Ricarda lagoon, it would be “a step forward for the Delta”.
For her part, two weeks ago, the ERC spokesperson, Marta Vilalta, assured that the development of the Airport would have to follow a model that respects biodiversity and avoids urban speculation, “without expanding runways that are not necessary or useful.”
Therefore, it is still unknown if this construction is possible. However, in the case Crónica Global executes the plan, it would be the first runway over the sea in an airport in Spain. Other large-scale examples of this type of project around the world are the Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan) and Chek Lap Kok International Airport, in Hong Kong, since both built on ad hoc artificial islands.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport is the main airport in Catalonia, Spain. It is located about 12 km southwest of the centre of Barcelona and is the second largest airport in Spain after Madrid-Barajas Airport. The airport serves as a hub for several airlines, including Vueling, Ryanair, and Norwegian Air International. Furthermore, it offers a wide range of domestic and international flights to destinations throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.
The name of the airport, which is open from 1918, comes from the nearby town of El Prat de Llobregat. In recent years, BCN airport has undergone significant expansion and modernization. This includes the construction of a new terminal building in 2009 and the addition of a third runway in 2018.