The Spanish slot coordinator, AECFA, announced that Barcelona airport capacity is increasing by 9% with effect from the next summer season. This increase may result as significant as the Palma Airport capacity increase that we have already explained.
While Madrid airport lost passengers by 0.4%, 9.0% and 12.1% in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively, Barcelona increased traffic by 17.8%, 2.2%, and 0.2%. In 2014 Madrid is recovering and increased traffic by 4.1% between January and September. However, Barcelona, which did not lose traffic at all in the previous years, keeps gaining passengers in 2014 as well. Barcelona served as much as 6.9% more passengers until September this year with regard to the same period of 2013.
Taking these figures into consideration we end up wondering, how many more passengers can Barelona accept? where is the limit for further growth at the airport? Actually, there is no limit when it comes to passengers. Barcelona airport does not have any terminal constraints as Palma de Mallorca does. In Barcelona airport, if we do not consider apron, an Airbus 380 has as many chances to allocate its wished schedules as a Bae 146, no matter the A380 could transport up to 853 passengers and the Bae 146 has some configurations with just 19 seats. The real limit in Barcelona is in the runway capacity. Until now, Barcelona airport, with 3 runways, used to accept up to 66 operations per hour. That includes landings and take-offs. Effective from March 2015, the new runway capacity will be 72 operations per hour, which means an increase of 9% over the previous capacity. Moreover, capacity for departures will increase from 36 to 40 take-offs per hour.
Barcelona airport has coordinated about 181,000 operations along the current summer season which is about to expire. Those operations offered availability for 31.25 million seats to/from the airport. That makes an average of 172 passengers per aircraft. Since the Barcelona airport capacity increases from 66 to 72 operations per hour, that makes 6 more operations per hour. Hence, the airport will be able to accept an average of 1,032 more passengers per hour. That really is an impressive amount and will definitely help to alleviate the congestion in the peak times.
This graph shows, as an example, the use of the runway in Barcelona airport on May 30. It clearly represents the most congested times in the morning and in the evening. In both cases, the runway capacity for total operations was fully booked. But this is not the only runway constraint in Barcelona, the capacity for take-offs, has been increased from 36 to 40 per hour. These parameters are the ones Barcelona airport considers at daytime. At night, the capacity is lower in order to meet the environmental requirements. However, the daytime schedule has been extended too. It used to be from 05:00 to 20:29 UTC and has now become 05:00 – 20:59. This is good news also, considering that the limit for operations per hour drops, suddenly, from 72 to 48 at that time.
Photo: Air Canada Boeing 767-300ER taxiing at El Prat Airport / Wikimedia Commons – Russavia