Monday, September 23, 2013

Up to 85 percent of Spanish airports losing money

Spain has fifty-two airports. Germany, with almost twice the population, 81 million people, has just 19.

AENA have registered a decline of 4.6% in the number of passengers travelling through their airports in the first six months of the year, with 70.14 million passengers.

The reduction has produced an accumulated debt of 166 million euros.

We all know the story of Castellón airport which is currently costing 3,600 euros a day to keep closed.  It was reported last week that last week that the company currently running the site with no aircraft, Aerocas, spent 368,865 euros in 2011 on personnel costs, despite having just seven employees.

In addition they also spent more than 5 million euros on advertising, promotion and public relations.

So how many more similar cases are there amongst the fifty-two airports in Spain especially as there are more than 20 major towns or cities that have two, sometimes even three airports within a comfortable sixty minute drive

To put this into some sort of perspective, Spain is the European country with the most airports per head of population. With its 46 million people, 17 autonomous communities divided into 50 provinces, without counting Ceuta or Melilla, Spain has fifty-two airports. Germany, with almost twice the population, 81 million people, has just 19.

A report written by the Foundation for Applied Economic Studies (Fedea) based on public data, states that only eight of the forty-seven airports managed by AENA are profitable: Fuerteventura, Alicante, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, Seville, Valencia, Lanzarote and Malaga, with the airports in Palma, Ibiza and Menorca, the most popular tourist destinations in Spain,  accounting for the largest number of July passengers in Julytheir history.

The Madrid- Barajas airport with 545 daily flights and 26.7 million passengers between January and July, was the sixth busiest in Europe in the number flights. In the ninth position was Barcelona- El Prat, with 20.24 million passengers and 170,108 flights.

However the Minister of Development, Ana Pastor, revealed last February in the House of Representatives that the debt of AENA , the public company which manages 90 percent of Spanish airports, amounted to 14 billion euros.

The report says that more than half of Spain’s airports have another airfield within 130 miles,Girona,  Barcelona, Reus,  Valladolid, Salamanca, Alicante, Murcia, Granada and Malaga.  Indeed in many cases, such as Galicia, passengers can choose from three: Santiago de Compostela, Coruña and Vigo, all of which are less than a 90 minute drive.

Huesca airport, which invested 60 million euro in order to to accommodate 160,000 passengers a year, processed just  2,781 passengers in 2011. It has had no regular flights since last year. The airport Ciudad Real was opened two years ago, but will be inactive when Spanair leaves in October.

Staff at Lleida say that the airlines do not want to fly there , and it currently has just one return flight to Mallorca. Valladolid Airport recorded 192,785 passengers, a decrease of 12.5 percent from 2011, while the León had 26,948 passengers, down 28.1 percent.

Murcia’s Corvera International airport was built in 2007 with a guarantee of 200 million euros from the regional government. However despite there being no current plans to open the site Murcia’s president, Ramón Luis Valcárcel, defended its construction saying last week that San Javier airport is not an airport that can respond to the interests of Murcia.

He said that flying from Madrid to Murcia, for example, is an adventure because you have to get up at four o'clock to book in.

Other airports that failed to register any significant passenger numbers include Cordova (8,442 travellers), Albacete (8415) and Vitoria with just 48 passengers per day.

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