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Valencia and Alicante airports 'on brink of collapse' ahead of busy summer

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
Valencia and Alicante airports 'on brink of collapse' ahead of busy summer
Valencia and Alicante airports on the brink of collapse. Photo: JOSE JORDAN / AFP

Both Valencia Manises Airport and Alicante-Elche have recorded their busiest Aprils ever. Officials have warned that the airports' limited capacity will bring flight operations to a standstill if passenger numbers continue to grow.

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Since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic tourism numbers just keep increasing in Spain. Spain is once again one of the top summer destinations for international tourists in 2024 and visitor numbers for May were already 14 percent higher than the same month last year. 

Both Valencia city and Alicante are very popular Spanish destinations, and experts have warned that their airports are not able to sustain the increase in numbers. 

According to the latest data from airport management company Aena, Valencia airport received 945,513 passengers in April, which is 9.5 percent more than in the same period last year

So far this year, there have already been 3.07 million passengers passing through Valencia airport. If these numbers continue, and with the summer season about to begin, it will exceed its 10.5 million capacity.

READ ALSO: Why does hatred of tourists in Spain appear to be on the rise?

Experts have been warning this could soon cause a collapse if an expansion is not made. Currently, Aena's plan is to start an expansion project at the end of this year or the beginning of 2025. However, it will not be complete until 2027.  

Valencian Tourism Councillor Nuria Montes agreed in a recent interview, saying that  “Valencia airport must be expanded because it is on the verge of collapse". She believes that with an upgrade, a total of 15 million passengers per year would be possible by 2030.

The latest report from the Council of Chambers stressed that an improvement “would allow us to exceed 21 million passengers in an optimistic scenario” by 2030.

It also added that that if there is no airport expansion, it would cause losses close to €933 million, as well as the loss of 17,500 new jobs per year.

READ ALSO: 'It's too much': Spain's Menorca another victim of overtourism 

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Alicante-Elche is in a similar situation and also registered a historic April with 1,590,828 passengers, which represents the fourth record month of the year. This was 10.8 percent more than in the same month of 2023. 

The president of the Generalitat Valenciana, Carlos Mazón, together with the president of the Alicante Chamber of Commerce, Carlos Baño, have issued an urgent warning regarding Alicante-Elche Airport also stating it's also on the brink of collapse and that if nothing is done, it threatens to paralyse the entire province. 

According to a recent report, traffic projections for 2026 were already exceeded in 2023, pushing the airport to breaking point. And with forecasts predicting a constant increase in traffic, reaching two million passengers annually, the current infrastructure will not meet the growing demand.

The president of the Alicante Chamber of Commerce Carlos Baño has warned that if action is not taken immediately, it could cause an economic disaster for the province – losing around €800 million annually.

He also highlighted the threat to employment, with up to 14,800 jobs at risk if construction of a second runway is not carried out between 2024 and 2030.

READ ALSO: Protesters threaten Mallorca airport 'blockade' ahead of another tourism demo in Spain 

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As tourism is one of the main drivers of the economy in Alicante, an airport at breaking point could also lead to serious financial consequences for businesses and families across the area.

In order to help solve the issues, the president of Aena, Maurici Lucena, in a meeting with the Ministers of Infrastructure declared that they will begin the expansion of Alicante-Elche airport in the last quarter of 2024.

However, he said that the renovations would focus on increasing the size of the current terminal, rather than on creating a second runway, which is what many are demanding.

Following an analysis and technical study, Lucena said: "Investment priorities should be the expansion of the current terminal to increase its capacity in the face of future demand due to the increase in operations and passengers". 

But, the Alicante Chamber of Commerce believes this is insufficient and predicts that the airport will reach 20 million users by 2026 and urgently needs a second runway.

Tourism Councillor Montes agreed that “a second runway for the Alicante-Elche airport is their main demand”.

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