Barcelona airport recovers the main runway today after 15 days of works

Every day in February 2004, 60,600 travelers passed through the Barcelona airport.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
17 March 2023 Friday 23:51
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Barcelona airport recovers the main runway today after 15 days of works

Every day in February 2004, 60,600 travelers passed through the Barcelona airport. In the same month of 2023, this figure grew to 111,880 daily. Nineteen years ago it was still operated with two crossed runways, and it was then that the famous third runway in El Prat was inaugurated, next to its beach. This alleviated the needs of an airport even without T1 and was one of the most important works of the Barcelona plan. Its expansion has been raised and debated in recent times.

This longest runway, of 3.4 km, has been closed for works during the last two weeks, in which the airport has functioned as it had been for two decades, with two crossed runways of 2.6 km. If there's no last-minute hiccup, the third track will be back online today.

“The works on the track are recurring and we always work in advance. They are announced months or even a year in advance, so that companies can adapt their operations”, the aeronautical engineer Sonia Corrochano, director of the airport, told La Vanguardia.

During these days it has been agreed with the airlines to operate all day as at night: 24 arrivals and 24 departures per hour. The companies have also been warned from Aena of the limitation on the length of the runways. Those that operate the longest flights have not been able to leave at full occupancy, limiting passengers or cargo on board. This has been the case of Level flights to Santiago de Chile, which, with occupations that almost always exceed 90%, have had to travel with part of their seats empty these days.

"For our part, we do everything in our power so that the operation is normalized, although external circumstances may appear, and then control is already more complicated," says Corrochano. The director refers to the days when due to adverse weather it has only been possible to operate with only one of the runways. This has led to waiting in the sky to land and long queues on the taxiways to take off. Added to this is the strike in the transport sector in France, including air traffic controllers in that country, affecting the punctuality of part of the flights.

“You already assume that when there are works, you will have delays, it is understandable” comments Èric, commander of the Airbus A320 based in Barcelona. “What has happened is that on Monday the 13th the low visibility procedures were activated, something that happens only two or three times a year… and it has had to coincide with these limitations. It has complicated everything, and the delays have accumulated”, indicates the Catalan pilot, who also highlights the excellent work of the controllers of the El Prat tower and the Gavà control center to manage the situation.

"Operating with two crossed lanes or with only one supposes more workload for the controllers and we have to spin everything even finer, although everything has gone quite well these days of works", indicates Pau Marí, controller and spokesperson for the USCA union, very active these weeks in the face of the threat of the privatization of control towers.

The completion of the resurfacing of the main track has finished, although the works continue: the asphalting of different roads and the construction of a street parallel to the current one that leads to the header 24L on the third track is planned soon, although these works will not affect the operation of El Prat as well as the works of this past fortnight.