AENA set to develop new Murcia Airport to rival Alicante

In Dec-2017, and following the withdrawal of the only remaining competitors, Corporacion America and Edeis, the giant Spanish airport operator AENA was awarded the contract for the management of Murcia Corvera International Airport. Local commerce associations had been vocal about AENA holding a monopoly over both the airports in Murcia, claiming Corvera would be relegated to a standby airport.

Nevertheless the deal was finalised. Now AENA’s President and CEO, Jaime Garcia-Legaz, has gone on record as saying he plans to develop Murcia Covera Airport into the “same league” as Alicante-Elche Airport, the primary gateway to the Costa Blanca beach resorts that expects to have handled over 14 million passengers in 2017. In doing so Mr Garcia-Legaz rejected the notion that Murcia Corvera Airport will be a “satellite to Alicante” and added that AENA is appointing Mariano Menor, Director at Valencia Airport, to coordinate the development of the airport, as “he is one of the best in AENA’s network”.

The Corvera airport concession will be for 25 years, during which AENA will have to pay the Murcia Autonomous Community a progressive fee of EUR0.73 to 2.52 per passenger. The regional Administration is paying the guarantee of EUR182 million but it still must liquidate the previous contract with Aeromur.

MAP – The new Murcia Corvera Airport is located further inland than the current Murcia San Javier Airport and closer to the citySource: Google Maps

The opening of the new airport for commercial operations is planned for the end of 2018, during the low season. Mr Garcia-Legaz sees Murcia – Madrid as an unviable route, as the fast rail system AVE covers that route. On the other hand, he sees Murcia – Barcelona as a viable route, as well as connections to Galicia and Basque country.

The existing  San Javier airport, which is situated on the coast and which will close when the new airport opens,  is as “handy” for resorts such as Torrevieja and the golfing resorts in the area.

CHART – Murcia’s existing San Javier Airport is currently linked by three airlines – Ryanair, easyJet and TUI Airlines Belgium – to 12 destinations in four countries but operations increase in the summerSource: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG (data: w/c 15-Jan-2018)

Ryanair is also the largest airline at Alicante-Elche Airport though other carriers are more evenly apportioned and the Spanish IAG subsidiary Vueling makes an appearance alongside a battery of foreign airlines.

CHART – Alicante-Elche Airport is served by a mix of full service and LCCs linking it currently to 83 destinationsSource: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG (data: w/c 15-Jan-2018)

The new airport is further inland, but on the road between Murcia and the port of Cartagena and will focus on tourism related traffic, mainly from north and central Europe with AENA’s president ruling out prospects for cargo traffic at the new airport. He said there should not be a reason to raise the expectations that cargo traffic will be enhanced by AENA’s concession.