There’s another proposal for a second Madrid airport, but what’s so different this time? Quite a lot, it appears!

A group of Spanish businessmen have outlined a scheme to develop ‘Air City Madrid Sur Airport’ with a EUR148 million private investment to expand the Casarrubios del Monte Airfield as an LCC terminal. Construction would begin in 2020. The airport would have annual capacity for seven million passengers and be operational by 2023. The project includes a 3200m runway, an ATC tower, a 15,000 sqm terminal, hangars and two access roads.


Summary:

  • Another proposal has arisen for the construction of a second Madrid Airport, this time to the southwest of the Spanish capital;
  • Previous attempts have failed miserably, but this proposal has more favourable aspects to it and appears to have Government backing;
  • The planned airport at Casarrubios-Álamo would have annual capacity for seven million passengers and could be operational by 2023;
  • But there remains one big question… who will finance it?

The fundamental rationale for the airport is said to be that Madrid is the only European capital to have just one commercial airport and its economic and industrial development cannot be conditioned by it.  That is not actually the case as their are many capital and major cities in Europe with a single commercial airport.

The group has probably been encouraged by developments in Lisbon and Amsterdam where secondary airports are being developed.. Moreover, Madrid does already actually have another –  the joint military Madrid–Torrejón Airport, 24 km (15 miles) to the northeast, but used only by general and executive aviation.

A more solid argument is that a new commercial airport could hive off low-cost and charter traffic from Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, enabling it to flourish as a network hub. That is also the reasoning at Amsterdam and Lisbon. Madrid Barajas is already a major Europe-Latin America hub and as previously reported by The Blue Swan Daily (see: Madrid Airport seeks to extend its hub capability to link Asia to North America and Latin America markets) there is some opportunity for it to link other regions.

Mention of Castilla-La Mancha generates warning bells because that community was the site of the previous, and ultimately disastrous, public-private initiative to build a “second airport for Madrid”, over 150 km away from the capital, in a thinly populated area at Ciudad Real. The idea was that it would be connected to Madrid by the AVE Hi-speed rail line, which it was, but distances were too great, amongst many other reasons for its failure. (Another was that LCC traffic could be “hived off” from Barajas; that didn’t happen).

MAP – Casarrubios-Álamo (bottom left) is located 30 km southwest of the capital, sharing land between the communities of Madrid and Castilla-La ManchaSource: Google Maps

In this case distance is not so much of an issue. Casarrubios-Álamo is only 30 km from Madrid, not 150 km, and may even be closer than Barajas to some southern suburbs. Accessibility depends on existing road infrastructure as there is no known rail service, but it appears quite adequate. Also, the lack of a rail connection has never been an impediment to the fortunes of a low-cost airport. Other factors attracting the group include the orography of the land (it is flat), terrestrial communications and the prospect of a minimal impact on the environment.

The airport will also handle executive aviation and pilot training in purpose-built facilities. There will be a specific cargo terminal, with associated logistics centres. It is anticipated that 5,600 direct jobs and 13,300 indirect jobs will be created in the first ten years with a total investment of EUR1.8 billion. The construction phase should generate 12,500 jobs.

The company which has been formed, Air City Madrid Sur, which is chaired by Gregorio Marañón and Bertrán de Lis, has prepared an economic feasibility study and the project has been declared “regional” in scope by the Community of Madrid. The promoters claim to have maintained contacts with “many” airlines, which are willing to operate there, although Ciudad Real also made similar claims.

This is not the first time a second airport has been proposed for Madrid, quite apart from Ciudad Real and the previous one was at El Álamo. It was predicated on Spain winning the tender to host the 2012 Olympic Games (it didn’t) and the fortunes of the ‘Eurovegas’ casino project, which was subsequently withdrawn and has since withered on the vine.

Schemes such as these (for example the London Britannia Airport in the River Thames Estuary and the Brescia-Verona airport in Northern Italy) come and go. This one at least seems to have obtained government backing while placing no onus on the public sector for any investment. But one big question remains… who will finance it from the private sector?