Madrid (ACN).- The Spanish Government announced on Friday, after the weekly Cabinet meeting, the creation of Madrid Barajas and Barcelona El Prat Airport Managing Boards, which will manage the contract with the private operators running the airports. Both airports will be run by a private operator in the near future, although AENA will still own 100% of them. Barcelona Airport’s Managing Board will have a Catalan majority and it will be formed by nine members in total. Four members will be appointed by Catalan public administrations, one by Catalan business community and four by AENA itself. The board’s decisions will be taken by a two-third majority, although those deemed more important may require a three quarter majority.
The Spanish Government has decided to privatise the management of Madrid Barajas Airport and Barcelona El Prat Airport. Currently, the Spanish Airport Authority (AENA), which owns and manages all Spanish airports, is studying the offers presented. The current Spanish Government announced a few weeks ago that the new Government resulting from the elections will decide on the tender process. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, suggested that it will be convenient to end up with different operators for the two airports. Mas-Colell made the statement at the IESE in Barcelona, in the fourth annual celebration of the first civil society petition –mainly made by the Catalan business sector– to participate in the management of Barcelona Airport, by decentralising it.
Last month was Barcelona El Prat's busiest month of October, with more than three million passengers, 9.5% more than those registered in October 2010. In the first ten months of the year (from January to October), Barcelona Airport had 29.5 million passengers, more than all the passengers registered in 2010 (29.2 million), which means that it will reach passengers numbers pre crisis, with more than 32 million passengers.
The current Spanish Government approved the structure of the Managing Board of Barcelona El Prat, after negotiating with the Catalan Executive. The Catalan Minister for Transport, Lluís Recoder, celebrated the decision and hoped the Spanish Government resulting from the next elections will respect the agreement. Recoder was confident the Board’s Catalan majority “will pull” the rest of the institution.
Five Catalan members and four from AENA
The Managing Board will have a majority of members appointed by Catalan public administrations and the business community, although any decision will have to be agreed with the members appointed by AENA, the Spanish Airport Authority. The Board will have a total of nine members, four of which will be nominated by AENA. The rest will be Catalan: two will be appointed by the Catalan Government, one by Barcelona City Council, one by the Barcelona Metropolitan Area representatives, and one by the business community. This latest member will “a person with recognised prestige” and will be agreed by the local business people.
The Managing Board will be in charge of supervising the work of the private operator, and to define the airport’s strategic guidelines. Decisions will be mostly taken by a two third majority (six votes out of nine), although the most important decisions may require a three quarter majority (seven votes out of nine). This way, neither the Catalan members, nor AENA’s have the power to decide unilaterally. The Managing Board will decide on airport taxes and tariffs, slots and routes, as well as investments.
Claim for local participation in strategic decisions
For the Catalan administrations and business community it was essential to have a determinant weight in the airport’s strategic decisions, since AENA has in the last number of years prioritised Madrid-Barajas over Barcelona El Prat. The Catalan business community, which is very open to foreign countries, has been dreaming about an airport that is a hub for international and intercontinental flights in its own right. They have been working towards this plan and in the last number of years, Barcelona Airport has significantly increased the number of international connections and intercontinental flights.
A record October
In October Barcelona El Prat broke a record, as it was the month of October with the highest number of passengers, with 3,064,552. This means 9.5% more than in October 2010. In fact, 2011 is being a very good year for Barcelona Airport: in the first ten months of the year, 29,507,966 passengers passed through it. Compared to the same period in 2010, it means an 18.9% increase. The 2011 figure is already more than all the passengers in 2010 (29.2 million). This news confirms that Barcelona El Prat is already at the levels prior to the crisis, with more than 32 million passengers.
International passengers have been the main reason behind the increase, growing 18.2% in October 2011 compared to the same month in 2010. Intercontinental passengers grew 14.2% in the same period. One of the most significant booms in this sector have been passengers going or flying from Qatar, which have increased by 133.4%. The number of passengers to Canada grew by 48.9%, to Mexico 35.5% and to the United States by 28.6%. In Europe, the higher passenger growths have been with Portugal (44.5%), with the Russian Federation (42.9%), with Belgium (32.9%) and with the Czech Republic (31.6%).