The tourism sector in Spain is desperate and angry about the chaos at airports

by Lorraine Williamson
tourism sector in Spain

MADRID – The tourism sector in Spain is in despair. About the chaos at various Spanish airports, it is noted that the Minister of Transport is turning a deaf ear to “a problem for which there is an easy solution”.  

So says Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of Meliá Hotels. “It is unbelievable and unacceptable that after two dramatic years for tourism, we are unable to know how to manage the (expected) demand from tourists,” Escarrer repeated on his Twitter page one of the news reports published by Preferente about the problems occurring at Madrid-Barajas airport and other airports of the AENA network. 

Ministry denies the problems “categorically” 

The Interior Ministry has “categorically” denied that there have been “significant” queues or delays at passport controls at any of Spain’s airports according to the tourism sector. Instead, the ministry points to “specific” and “exceptional” situations that have arisen. And these were due to the coincidence of several flights from outside the Schengen area. According to Internal Affairs, passport controls at airports are also “tuned to the passenger flow and are strengthened where necessary”. 

The president of the Exeltur association, which represents the main companies in the Spanish tourism sector, says; “Accelerate passport controls at the main airports in Spain. And do not cause us more damage than we have already suffered as a result of the pandemic”. 

Take responsibility for the chaos

Expressing itself in the same terms, the Tourism Office urges the Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to “take responsibility once and for all in the chaos experienced at the Spanish airports where most international passengers make use of”. 

He denounces the fact that “Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife Sur, Málaga, and Valencia suffer the unfortunate spectacle of passengers queuing for hours. And furthermore, missing their connections. All because there is not enough police personnel present at passport checkpoints,” the Mesa del Turismo said in a statement. 

Bad image for the tourism sector in Spain

According to the president of this organisation, Juan Molas, “it is something completely intolerable that causes enormous chaos at the airports and serious problems for all airlines”. Moreover, if that were not enough, it is “very bad for Spain’s image as a tourist destination”. Molas wonders how it is possible “that a leading country in tourism would agree to this?” 

Furthermore, he criticizes the fact that the minister seems to remain deaf to the problem. A problem that can be solved very easily by hiring extra staff!

La Sextra wrote on Tuesday that the government has pledged as many as 500 additional agents. However, the Interior Ministry says they have already been deployed. 

Automatic entrance gates 

The airlines association ALA  increasing the number of police officers, in the event of a collapse, passengers should be allowed to pass through the automatic gates also used for community travellers, rather than manually checking. 

The advice of the Spanish Consumers’ Association 

In all these situations, there is hope for passengers who are duped by the long queues at the (passport) checks. The consumer organisation OCU advises travellers to prove that the delay was caused by the checks (with photos, receipts from a taxi, or metro ticket). This increases the chance that you will get a refund or be rebooked to another flight. OCU also recommends submitting a claim directly to the AENA counter. 

Delays at other airports in Europe 

It seems that this situation is repeating itself at several airports. In Spain, in Alicante, Malaga, Tenerife South, Seville, and Palma there have been long queues lately. Outside the Spanish borders, UK airports have also been reporting huge queues and long waits for weeks now.

Also read: Chaos threatens Spanish airports


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