More than 200 entities support the expansion of El Prat, which could contribute 9% of the GDP

"We cannot renounce to an investment of 1,700 million", says the manifesto

3 min
El Prat airport, February this year.

More than 200 entities support the manifesto in favour of the expansion of Barcelona airport. Among those adhering to the manifesto are organizations such as the employers' associations Foment del Treball and Pimec, the Cercle d'Economia, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, the RACC, Barcelona Tech City, the Esade business school and all kinds of Catalan business and social organizations. The manifesto is made public before an event scheduled for the 2nd at Esade to make clear this support for the expansion of Barcelona airport, similar to what was done in 2007 at Iese.

The manifesto makes clear three arguments in favour of the expansion. On the one hand, the fact that the infrastructure is reaching its maximum capacity. In 2019, before the pandemic, it reached 53 million passengers, when its maximum capacity is 55 million, so "it is exhausting its capacity". A second key argument is its contribution to the economy. According to this manifesto, the airport contributes 7% to the wealth of Catalonia and "with the expansion it would reach a contribution of 9% to the GDP".

Another key argument that the signatories of the manifesto wield in support of the expansion is that, with the historical deficit of infrastructures that Catalan civil society has repeatedly denounced, now "we cannot renounce to an investment of 1,600-1,700 million euros".

Therefore, the manifesto states that the expansion of the airport is "essential", "unpostponable" and responds "to the general public interest, social and economic", will increase the Catalan GDP by two points and will allow "to place Catalonia and Barcelona in the world". In addition, it is recalled that El Prat airport is one of the main engines of competitiveness, employment and future of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and the Euro-Mediterranean region, and that its successive expansions have demonstrated the importance of having a competitive airport to have quality employment, industrial, logistical and innovative development.

Faced with the saturation of the airport, the manifesto indicates that to increase its capacity it is necessary to build the satellite terminal already planned and the lengthening of one of the runways, which would give the Prat a prominent role as an intercontinental hub. After the stop due to the pandemic, the signatories indicate that "what is important now is that Barcelona airport, through its latest expansion, contributes to the economic recovery of Catalonia and its growth".

Post-pandemic economy

According to the manifesto, with the enlargement, Catalonia and Barcelona would not only become a destination for sustainable tourism, but this would also "boost economic activity by generating employment, attracting and retaining talent and international investment, elements necessary to make other policies implemented for the growth of the new green and blue economic sectors a reality".

The manifesto considers that the expansion is "perfectly compatible with the protection of biodiversity, through the adoption of appropriate and proportionate compensatory measures" that improve the initial economic and environmental situation through "a sincere dialogue between the administrations and associations involved" to reach a consensus.

Therefore, they ask that Aena - the state-controlled airport management company - commits to the fact that the projected actions "involve not only the mere restoration, but the compensation of the affected natural areas in a ratio of 1 to 10, as well as the creation of a new natural area of the Llobregat Delta with an extension of the protected area of more than 25% of the current one".

They believe that the decision on the expansion of the airport "cannot be postponed, not only from the purely economic aspect of its contribution to the generation of wealth, but also from the budgetary and regulatory aspect of the airport system". And they warn in the manifesto that Catalonia "would lose competitiveness, on the one hand, and connectivity in an increasingly global world, on the other".

The entities that sign the manifesto call for an agreement between Aena, the Generalitat, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and the city councils of Barcelona, El Prat, Gavà, Viladecans, Sant Boi, and other affected municipalities, "to send the European institutions a clear and forceful message of consensus in relation to the public interest that justifies the expansion, and the environmental compensation measures to be adopted to facilitate its implementation".

Environmentalist opposition

They also urge Aena to maintain its commitment to the future plans for the Girona-Costa Brava and Reus airports, for which "it must continue to invest heavily". "It is necessary to prioritise public and private infrastructures that are vital for the country and for its development, allowing it to compete internationally and reduce its historical deficit denounced by the Catalan civil society", these entities add.

The possible expansion of El Prat has unleashed a new controversy, since Aena makes the construction of the new satellite terminal subject to the extension of the runway closest to the sea, which would affect the ecosystem of La Ricarda. That is why several entities and town councils in the area have already spoken out against this possible expansion.