Air Transport World

Spanish enlightenment: with two new runways and an imposing new terminal, Madrid Barajas is determined to gain momentum as a major hub in Europe.(Airports)(Cover Story)

Last month saw the official inauguration of Madrid Barajas Airport's new Terminal 4 project as Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar cut the ribbon. The ceremony marked the completion of the major construction phase of a massive 4.4 billion [euro] ($5.5 billion) expansion program encompassing two 3,500-m. runways, a terminal and satellite buildings, a car park and roadways. When fully operational, the runways will permit an increase in hourly air operations from 78 to 120 while T4 will double the airport's design capacity to 70 million passengers per year.

The new runways are scheduled to become operational this summer although they will not be used for regular air traffic until next year, most likely in conjunction with the opening of T4 in the first quarter of 2005, a bit behind the planners' original goal of opening in 2004. Rumors of further delay persist in the Spanish press but Aena, the public entity that controls Spanish ATC and owns some 47 airports in Spain and 15 in Mexico, Cuba and Colombia, insists the present timeframe will be respected. "I'm confident the new terminal will open on time," airport director Miguel Oleaga tells ATW.

As for the runways, "We will create additional capacity from the summer schedule 2005 onward," notes Oleaga while confirming that the airport at present has a shortage of slots. "We refuse part of the demand now." MAD will begin operating the new runways progressively, allowing 10 extra hourly aircraft movements per season. Key to maintaining this schedule is the agreement it hopes to achieve as soon as possible with the surrounding communities and municipality on the environmental impact of the runways and of a potential 60 landings and 60 takeoffs per hour.

Each of the new runways, 15L-33R and 18L-36R, is 3,500 m. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.