The future of the airport
Business 13/10/2021

Puigneró accuses the State of never having had a "real interest" in expanding El Prat

The vice-president of the Generalitat appears in Parliament without presenting alternatives to reactivate the negotiations

2 min
The vice-president of the Government and councillor of Territory, Jordi Puigneró, during the intervention to the Parliament.

BarcelonaMore than two months after sealing an agreement with Aena and the Spanish government to expand El Prat, which has been put on hold, the vice-president of the Generalitat and Minister for Territory and Digital Policies, Jordi Puigneró, has appeared in Parliament at his own request this Wednesday to explain the current situation and the future of this project. "Neither I nor anyone in the Government has ever spoken of carving up la Ricarda, on the contrary," he assured. Puigneró has shown himself determined to "dismantle the propaganda with data" and to convince that it is possible to make respect for the environment compatible with economic growth in the midst of a climate emergency.

The vice-president recalled that the pact of August 2 in Madrid received the "public and explicit" support from president Pere Aragonès. Even so, the leak of central government's investment plan caused the latter to publish a message on Twitter asking for a rectification. Puigneró has admitted that the text incorporated some "unnecessary details", such as the mention of extending the runway "to the east", that is, in the direction of La Ricarda lagoon. However, he considers that the Generalitat's position was agreed during the cabinet's meetings at the Vall d'en Bas, when the affectation of the lagoon was marked as a red line. "In one week, the PSOE has killed a €1.7bn project. What is the excuse? A tweet? What kind of rigour is this after two months of meetings?", asked the Junts leader.

In this sense, Puigneró has accused the Spanish government of never having had a "real interest" in moving forward with the expansion of El Prat. "Between them, they have achieved what the airport deniers wanted, that we end up with a regional airport with more low-cost tourist flights," he lamented. In this sense has claimed that he has "done all he could" to try to mediate to reach an agreement and that the Government has not "set aside" the investment.

Transfer of the management of airports

In his speech, Puigneró has returned to ask for Catalan airports to be managed by the Generalitat, instead of State airport company Aena. In fact, he claimed that if Catalonia were an independent state, El Prat would already be an intercontinental hub and that the Generalitat would have been able to take on the €1.7bn investment with only one week of what it loses due to its fiscal deficit with the State. "Catalonia cannot continue to depend for one more minute on a government that often goes against our interests in terms of infrastructures. You only have to look at commuter trains", he said. Puigneró also insisted that "the green airport" that he would like for El Prat will only be possible if it is managed from Catalonia.

After La Vanguardia published that the Government was working on alternatives to reactivate the expansion (such as extending the runway on both sides without affecting La Ricarda lagoon, but affecting the Llobregat delta), Puigneró has not spoken at any time about specific proposals. The vice-president has called on the actors involved to try to resume negotiations within the framework of the master plan, which would have to specify technical solutions that have a "minimum" impact on nature. "There are not yet the spaces to make this consensus possible, but it will never be 100% because there are starting positions that make it very difficult," he admitted.