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BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 08, 2001 12:21 am

Hi to all!

This is the first time I post anything here, but I like to check it out quite often. I must say some of the topics are very interesting.

I would liketo hear you comments (if any) about the potential future of Barcelona as an intercontinental hub. The airport is operating at almost full capacity with flights to all over Europe and many to places in the Mediterranian. However, there are only a couple of intercontinental destinations (JFK,ATL...)

After much discussion a new runway and a brand new terminal should be finished by 2004, because officials say BCN will become an interncontinental hub. However, I was wondering if any airline could ever decide to increase its operations here or if Iberia may decide to change its MAD-only strategy for intercontinental flights once it is privatized.


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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 08, 2001 3:24 am

Què? No t'ho acabes de creure, oi?

OK: Let me answer in english so anybody can understad us. In Catalan it would be only for you and me, and would not be fair. Also, we must let the world know how things are in Spain.
But first, let me list some "comparative" data between MAD and BCN, and maybe everybody can take their own conclusions.

1.- Madrid-Barajas has three runways, the fourth being built currently. Barcelona only two, and crossed between themselves, (25-07 & 20-02)thus very hardly handicapped. Besides, when wheather is bad, only 07 is used for both T/Os and landings, because: 1st, acces to 02 is through 25-07, and 2nd, because rwy 02 t/o heading is just above El Prat del Llobregat (next town), less than 1 km (2/3 mile) away...
2.- MAD has five (or six, don't remember) terminals. Barcelona only three.
3.- MAD has 90 "jetway" (finger) boarding gates and 20 remote (with shuttle bus) ones. BCN has 24 fingers and 24 remotes.

MAD try to handle 365.000 flights a year, or what's the same 331 flights per runway and day, and BCN handle 256.000, it means minimum 350/day/rwy, or more, since almost half the time, all t/o and ldg ops are done on only one rwy. Although it is not exact, 350x1.5=525 ops/day/rwy average have been achieved during some rainy, stormy, windy afternoons. Despite all this, and although rwy congestion is significantly less in MAD, there's no f*c*ing way to get the airplanes the h*ll out of there on time. In BCN not only it is usual to depart on time, but sometimes, some airplanes coming from MAD with delays shorter than 15-20 mins., manage to leave on time. I HAVE SEEN IT MYSELF. (Many of you might have read that between 1991 and 1998 I've flown almost 50 times BCN-ATH and back, departing BCN on airplanes coming initially from MAD: IB 3739 -afterwards IB 6966, and now IB 3966-, and OA 248/250)

Because of all these reasons, Spanish government is investing some 24 bilion pts (137 milion US$) to build a new terminal and a new 25L-07R rwy at BCN. Supposed to be for simultaneous use, the new runway will be so short, that for landing BIG A/Cs they'll have to... interrupt take offs from rwy 25R-07L!!!.
At the same time, they are investing approximately 50 bilion pts (more than double) in a 4th rwy and more terminals in MAD-Barajas airport, which will be... CLOSED IN FIVE YEARS' TIME!!!!, while building new MAD-Campo Real airport, ready by 2005...

Note, also, that Madrid Metro (underground metropolitan train, with urban fare ticket) has had a new line built from the center to the airport, with european funds. WHY? It's going to get lost in five years!!!! At the same time, Madrid Gov't is absolutely denying and blocking the use of European funds to build a metro line (which would be less than half long) from Barcelona to the airport.

And then, the Minister of Foreign affairs, Josep Piqué, (don't know why he, by the way, and not the Transport or the Interior ones) speak about "comparative offences" in front of other spanish and Europena airports if they did something better for BCN...
Can anybody understand this?

Well: it is not finished.

In Europe (compared to North and South America, and Asia, very short distances, therefore), there's a very important High Speed trains net. They are comparable to Supersonic Airplanes: while average trains serve at 120-160 km/h (75-100mph) max, High Speed trains serve at about 340-350 km/h (210-215 mph). Most important airports have HST station. Spanish airports don't. Yet. Now, and until 2004, BCN was supposed to have it. BUT for Barcelona's disgrace, it would be one year before Campo Real had it... And this is NOT possible, because Campo Real IS HAVING a HST station scheduled, but building it first in Barcelona would be a "comparative offence".

I suggest everybody a game: try to find "comparative offences" and to guess towards which airport they are directed. Then, judge Mr. (Mr.?) Piqué.

This is why, my friends, Barcelona is ALWAYS going to be a minor second category town airport in Spain. No matter it is proportionally performing quite better, without problems for most of the passengers, and easy to use for foreigners.

Sad. Very sad.

The only solution would be to create a major airline based in BCN, because, even privatized, Iberia will keep on being directed by Madrilians from Madrid, and making AENA (the state owned company managing ALL spanish airports) disappear, in order to descentralize the airports managing onto private local companies.

Best turbulences.
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 08, 2001 4:32 am

Do you think someone like easyJet could open a new European hub in the Future at BCN? How big a population does Barcelona have?? I have thought about visiting it in the future sometime, in particular the Nou Camp. What else is there in Barcelona to visit. Thanks
When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 08, 2001 5:07 am

MAD is - no doubt - the bigger airport, than BCN. But one question reminds open: Would there be a market big enough to support a hub airport?

Let's assume, a second big airline arises in Spain, as you suggest, Turbulence. Would thy operate succesfully at BCN? I think so, even if BCN perhaps never could get as important as MAD. Cataluña has a strong economy and can attract some business travellers. This region has also a big potential market, because there is a big population living there.

I think, for Iberia it's not economical to operate two intercontinental hubs. The situation is partly comparable to Swissair, which operate only from ZRH as a intercontinental hub.

Besides that, there might be some political issues here.

dominguez(dash)online(dot)ch ... Pushing the limits of my equipment
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 08, 2001 6:17 am

gkirk things to visit in Barcelona:
1: The Olympic Village and Stadium
2: The Cathedral built by Gaudi (cant remember its name)
3: Gaudi's park where he lived is nice. its also home to the largest public collage bench.
4: Nou Camp like you mentioned
5: Bull fighting ring. all i can remember is that there are 2 and the one still open is the one with Martini written on it.
6:Shopping on Las Ramblas is pretty good

thats the best places to visit as far as i am concerned

as regards to BCN being an intercontinental hub i think it has got a chance with what i saw of it. i think they may see flights to the Middle East and Africa.
regards BDRules
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 08, 2001 7:01 am

...the best reason to visit is that's it's only about 40 minutes to Palma!

RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Fri Mar 09, 2001 12:48 am


Nice to read such a well explained and argumented position, Turbulence.

No way for Barcelona to be present in the vanguard of the European airports if the Spanish political environment doesn't change radically.

I don't remember who said this, I think was Gerardo; actually THERE ARE some political issues. The problem is that if this "region" does not work towards achieving an acceptable status for Barcelona and Catalonia, the future is going to be no other than "periferical".

It will not be easy for a country like Spain to put two of its cities in a global sight, but I think that with willingness from Madrid it is possible. Barcelona is worldwide known and well ranked.

Some don't think so, or, much worst, they know it and seem that work strongly against a good transports hub for BCN. Sad but true.

We'll see.

Apa, que patirem  Smile

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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Fri Mar 09, 2001 2:21 am

Turbulence, thanks for all your info. I think you're completely right.

Si no espavilem, estem ben fotuts!  Big grin

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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Fri Mar 09, 2001 2:53 am

I tant, que patirem!!! Començant per empatar partits guanyats, oi que m'entens...?

Yes: as Gerardo said, and Barbarovira confirmed, THERE ARE political problems. The main one is that the party currently in the government, has absolute majority. And when spanish government has absolute majority, Catalan affairs always go wrong...
The second main one is that, this party, the Partido Popular, altough has presented itself to the world as a "center-right" party, is vastely integrated by former members of the dissappeared Alianza Popular, which, at its time, was created in order to "democratize" the people who had been in the government of Franco's dictature and keep them going.

Actually, the fist sentence I adress to Barbarovira (which says literally "Yes, we're gonna suffer, specially getting equal from won games") makes reference to the last football match (soccer for americans. By the way: I don't know why the h*ll you have to invent a weird name for european football, while you keep naming football a game that is played with the hands) between F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid: at the end of the game, result was 2-2 equal, and in the last minute Rivaldo made a goal for Barça. The referee invalidated the legal goal. This is just the less important part of all the "comparative offences" against Catalunya in front of Spain, but everything else goes the same way.
Anyhow, this would be another post in another forum, and would take VERY VERY VERY long to make people understand.
Anyway, if interested anybody, e-mail me and I'll start a thread at "non-aviation" forum. As for a beginning, you can learn more about Catalunya and Catalan language adressing yourselves to my threads in the post "What's your native language" at the non-aviation forum. Use the search machine, the tittle is exactly this one. Or, still easier, click on

EasyJet could place a hub here, but I guess Spanair (JK/SPP) or Air Europa (UX/AEA) are more likely to do so. And in any case, Air Europa is already radicated at Palma de Mallorca.
About how many people live here, 2.5 milions in Barcelona, 4 milions closer than one hour by car, 6.5 milions in Catalunya, and maybe 12 milions in the nearest communicated area, which would easily become 30 or 40 milions if the HST finally has a stop at BCN airport.

Last, things to see in Barcelona:

1.-The temple designed by Gaudi is not the Cathedral. This Temple is called the "Sagrada Família", is not finished because according to Antoni Gaudi's last will it had to be built ONLY with the money of donatives, and is amaster in architecture of Modernistic Style.
2.-The Cathedral, or "Temple de l'Adoració de Santa Eulàlia" is Gothic.
3.-The "Olympic Ring". Here there are the closed and open swimming pools ("Bernat Pi i Cornell" and "Piscines de Barcelona", the Olympic Stadium, the Baseball field, Olympic Shot (both fireguns and arrows) and the "Palau Sant Jordi", which is a "multi-purpose" indoor stadium: from Enrique Iglesias and "spice Girls" shows, to tennis "Davis Cup", including swimming championships, Guinness Records (most people having paid theatre ticket: it was "LA Extraña Pareja", played by magnificient Joan Pera and Paco Morán, the original called maybe "The Strange Couple", played in the movie by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau), indoor trial and supercross, ski (with snow, of course), etc, etc. By the way: knowing that "the Strange Couple" are two men, it can seem strange to English speakers that one of the actors who play it in Barcelona is called "Joan". Well, there's no mistake: John in Catalan is Joan, while Joan (or Joanna) is Joana.
4.-The "Rambles", both by day and by night
5.-The "Poble Espanyol". It is a small "village" made of reproductions of different architectonic styles, so you can have an idea of what a town can look like in different parts of Spain
6.-Catalunya en Miniatura. Has scale reproductions of most significant monuments of Catalonia
7.-Parc Güell (please pronounce "gwell", although ending double L in catalan is difficult to pronounce, but at least please do not say gel, or ghel), is the Park BDRules says, designed by Gaudí.
8.- continuing by Gaudi, the "Casa Milà", aka "La Pedrera", in the city center (Passeig de Gràcia)
9.- Maremàgnum: shops open 'till 11:00 night and a handful of discotheques. A cinema with 8 rooms, a 3-D and Imax / Sphaerical Super-Imax cinema and the "Aquàrium", the biggest mediterranean (and not only) live reserve in Europe.
10.- The live music bars in the "Gràcia" district
11.- Museu Picasso
12.- Fundació Miró
13.- The "Jazz cave" "La Cova del Drac" (The dragon's cave) in Plaça Adrià (Adrià Square)
14.- The architectonic Gothic district (Barri Gòtic)
15.- The "Temple d'August", which is the most important Romanic temple in the old town centre

e-mail for further details

Best turbulences
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BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Fri Mar 09, 2001 2:56 am

BCN is already a hub for "continental" (European) flights, it is connected to the rest of Europe as well as Madrid. And you can fly direct to BCN from almost anywhere in Spain.
In my opinion you will only see intercontinental flights to BCN when there is enough catalonian origin traffic (like to USA - JFK, ATL) . All the political "we have to get direct links to xx Latin American countries" flights will go to MAD. But let's look in the opposite direction, Spain is rather underserved from the Far East (no direct flights), why not try direct links from BCN to SIN, NRT, SEL, etc? A lot of traffic to Spain that today goes through the main Euro hubs could be funneled through BCN to the rest of the country.
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Fri Mar 09, 2001 3:07 am

I just wanted to express my love for Barcelona and BCN. They are my favorite city and airport in all of Europe! I cant wait to visit Spain again! Madrid and Sevilla are cool to but BCN takes the cake...Ok I just had to say that...as you were..

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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Fri Mar 09, 2001 4:44 am

There has been in the past, a variety of intercontinental flights from BCN (Viasa, Thai, IB to NRT etc. ) My guess is that the evolution of alliances and codeshare-flights has made direct intercontinental flights into the catalan region unprofitable. The situation is similar in Geneva, as previously mentioned, aswell as in Montreal, Dusseldorf, Nice, Lyon, Stockholm, Cape Town etc. etc.
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Sat Mar 10, 2001 10:23 pm


This is what is being said very long time from Madrid, but the only thign I've seen was 2 traffics per week of an IB 747-200Combi from SVO, which, in any way, had origin and end at MAD

The reason for visiting it because of its distance to PMI is better: 20 minutes, not 40...

I could not tell how much the "double" hub can be or not a problem. Don't know how things are in Stockholm, and it is true that Switzerland has only Zürich as hub.
Furthermore, there are also other "centralist" countries in Europe, like France, having all concentrated around Paris, (but in two airports, anyway), and Great Britain, having all concentrated in London (with five airports, two of them major intercontinental ones).
But, what about Italy, with Rome FCO and Milano LIN?
What about Portugal, with Lisboa and Porto?
What about Germany, with München and Frankfurt?

Madrid-Barajas is oversized for its capabilities, badly managed and organized, massive and "easy-to-get-lost". There's also a new "two-level" aeroway connection between MAD and BCN, and the air-shuttles between them (Iberia, Air Europa and Spanair) the most densely flown ones in Europe.
Hopefully, also, by 2004 Barcelona and Madrid Cities will be connected by High Speed Trains, and by 2005 Barcelona-El Prat and the new Madrid-Campo Real airports could (should) be.
What examples do you consider better? France-Paris and UK-London, or Italy-FCO-LIN, Portugal-LIS-OPO and Germany-MUC-FRA?

Personally, i think the second option is wiser...

Best turbulences
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 15, 2001 2:25 am

Still some notes on "comparative ofences" (read my above posts):

Two days ago, BCN airport was blocked. Nearly 200 flights were cancelled, and 40 diverted to Reus (RES), Girona (GRO), Palma de Mallorca (PMI) and Valencia (VLC). The reason? A dense fog which was covering exactly the coast line. Although in the city the day was clear, sunny and even hot, the airport had a visibility below 1 km. It is again a comparative offence of the ones stated above: BCN has electronic aids for approach and landing only C-II, while other (smaller) airports, like Valencia, Bilbao (BIO) are conveniently equipped.
Guess the reason: ALL spanish airports are managed by a state owned company called AENA(*) (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea), which does not mind that Barcelona is the second airport in Spain and an important exchange point from/to Europe: in the presetn time, they are taking care of nothing else but the new Madrid-Barajas 4th rwy. and the whole new Madrid-Campo Real Airport. Anyway, and in spite of the difficulties, 509 movements were made at BCN, but a total of 40,000 passengers had delays, cancellations or diversions, with coaches covering Barcelona-Reus-Valencia-Girona by road, meaning that people expected at BCN by 12:00 noon, for example, landed at Valencia, Reus or Girona just 20 minutes later, but arrived to BCN between 4:00 and 7:00 afternoon. Restaurants and bars got short of eatables and drinkables and pharmacies sold out all their baby-food.

Cost to AENA of a C-III ILS for BCN: $4milion.
Cost of the losses for all the companies operating at BCN, and everytime there's fog on the Mediterranean coast (at BCN, some 6 or 9 days a year): over $40 milion.

Spain is different!!!(*)

*Of course, AENA is a "spanish" company", radicated in Madrid, managed by madrilians the "madrilian way", looking mostly onto the interests of the "world capital center"
*This was a publicitary slogan for Spain abroad used during the time of the dictature. It was maybe attractive to the tourists to come to Spain, but for us, from inside, this "different" had a "different" meaning.
It is like if we were going back to those times...

Best turbulences..., IF YOU CAN FLY!!
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RE: BCN An Intercontinental Hub?

Thu Mar 15, 2001 2:59 am

According to what I have seen in Barcelona, and regarding my personal experience, once the new terminal is finished the major traffic growth will be focused on Latinamerican routes. Iberia has plans for launching BAC-EZE and BCN-GRU non stop... The point is how to feed those planes. BCN airport needs the new runway and termial in order to have more slots...
Anyway, I dont see in the near future flights to the far east (Iberia drpped some years ago the BCN-Moscow-Tokyo route)... Basically theres no a big market (neither from MAdrid: remember SQ flight stops at Zurich and TH inRome).Recently Iberia and JAl began codesahron, via AMS, the Tokyo route (from both MAD and BCN).
Sorry but Ill continue tomorrow

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