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Barcelona airport

General information

Barcelona airport air traffic control  tower

Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport, or simply Barcelona-El Prat Airport, is located 12 km (7.5 mi) southwest of the Barcelona 6 metres above sea level, between the municipalities of El Prat de Llobregat, Viladecans and Sant Boi. It is only 3 kilometres from the Port of Barcelona and 7 kilometres from the Zona Franca Industrial Estate, one of Spain's most important industrial and logistics parks and a key factor in Barcelona's economic strength.

The airport has had several popular nicknames such as La Volatería, so named for occupying the land of the first airfield in El Prat del Llobregat (1916, Aerodromo de La Volatería); Aeropuerto del Prat, or the most common of all, Barcelona-El Prat Airport, as it was designated in its penultimate official change in 2011. This designation was in force until 1 March 2019, when the new name of Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport was made public, as a tribute to the former president of the Generalitat de Catalunya, from whom it takes its name.

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Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport is part of the Public Business Entity ENAIRE, Spanish Airports and Air Navigation, which manages almost the entire Spanish airport network. The airport is identified by IATA BCN and OACI LEBL codes.

Barcelona-El Prat is the second largest airport in Spain, after Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, and is the main airport in Catalonia and on the Mediterranean coast. In 2019, 52.7 million passengers passed through its facilities, placing it in 6th position on the list of Europe's busiest airports. That same year, its growth increased by 5% compared to 2018, with more than 344,000 operations carried out and more than 177 million tons of cargo transported.

The policy of new routes practiced by the airport Management encouraged the opening of Barcelona to other destinations. Currently, there are 371 air routes that depart from the Catalan capital, with flights to 212 destinations in 62 countries around the world. This figure means that international traffic accounts for 73% of its total, with a volume of 38.7 million passengers.

According to the World Airport Awards, prizes awarded by the English consulting firm Skytrax, Barcelona-El Prat occupies the 39th position of the Best Airports in the World in the 2021 edition; and currently holds the number 4 of the Best Airports in Southern Europe. The Catalan airport was also awarded in 2021 with the prize for the 7th Best Airport in the category of airports with between 10-15 million passengers.

There are 89 airlines operating out of Barcelona Airport, 70% of which are low-cost airlines. Barcelona-El Prat is the headquarters of Vueling and LEVEL airlines, and has consolidated itself as one of the main low-cost airports in Europe in recent years.

It is also an important hub for scheduled airlines with direct connections to the United States, Canada, South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Only 9 of the 89 airlines operating at the airport (Vueling, Ryanair, easyJet, Iberia, Norwegian, Lufthansa, Air Europa, Wizz Air and British Airways) account for 75% of the airport's traffic. Charter flights account for 1% of annual traffic, with just over half a million passengers.

Domestically, the airport moves 14 million passengers and accounts for 26.6% of its total traffic. The route of the Madrid-Barcelona corridor -or air shuttle- continues to be the route in Spain with the highest passenger traffic, although from Barcelona it flies to 29 domestic destinations on 54 routes.


View of the runway from terminal T1

View of the runway from terminal T1

The airport consists of 2 passenger terminal buildings: terminal T1 and terminal T2.

With the Master Plan approved by the Ministry of Development in 1999, the Barcelona Plan officially began, which will provide the infrastructure with its current buildings and runways.

In the period from 2001 to 2007, several reforms affected T2: the creation of the new Module 0 for regional aviation; the reform of terminal B (new commercial area and improvement of the baggage claim area) and the extension of terminal A.

As for the airfield, in September 2004 the third runway, parallel to the main one, was opened and put into service. The construction and entry into service of this third runway, and the extension of the main runway, have been the determining actions that have allowed the airport's capacity to be increased, currently managing up to 90 operations per hour.

In this period, the intermodal and connection building between terminals A and B is also inaugurated, with which the front facades of the different airport terminals and the future configuration of terminal A will be aligned.

In 2008, the C terminal opened a new extension module and its 2,200 m² were equipped with new check-in facilities, luggage, etc.

One year later, in 2009, the T1 terminal was put into operation. A large architectural construction that has been located between the two runways. T1 is equipped with 101 boarding gates, 166 check-in desks, 12,000 parking spaces, and has a commercial area of more than 20,000 m². . It has capacity for 33 million annual users and at the time represented an investment of 1,258 million euros.

The airport has 3 take-off and landing zones, thus obtaining 3 runways in service: two in parallel called 24R / 06L and 24L / 06R; and a crusade, track 02/20. The third runway is equipped with the highest category beaconing facilities and ILS Category II / III systems at each head.

Runway 24R / 06L dates from 1948 and has been expanded several times. It is the main runway of the airport and is 3,352 m long and 60 m wide. The 24L / 06R runway is the last of the three runways built by the airport and was built in 2004. It has a length of 2,660 m long and 60 m wide, is equipped with the highest category beaconing facilities and with ILS Category II / III systems in each header, this allows its use in both directions and in foggy conditions. It has a parking platform for aircraft of 600,000 m².

Renovation of the commercial area of the T1 terminal

At the end of 2012, and coinciding with a change in the management of the airport, Aena launched a tender for the operation of new shops in the commercial area in terminals T1 and T2. The company World Duty Free Group was the successful bidder in this tender.

In 2015, AENA completed the first stage of the commercial renovation of the T1 terminal, with an outstanding area dedicated to luxury products and major cosmetics and fashion brands. Major brands of recognised prestige have been added to the existing offer since then, providing the commercial area with a great experience for airport users in an area of more than 20,000 m².

T1 terminal shopping area

New premises continue to be added to complement the Shopping Center area: The Plaza and the check-in area in terminal T1 at Barcelona Airport offer luxury products and fashion and accessory sectors, such as shoes, lingerie, jewellery and cosmetics, with a quality standard comparable to other European airports.

The total surface area of the shops is 11,950 m² and the area for duty free shops is 3,853 m², with 50 duty paid shops and five duty free outlets (tax free).

In future projects, the urbanization of more than 300 hectares is foreseen for a service area for the industrial and commercial development of the airport. As well as the creation of an aeronautical park of 90 hectares for the installation of maintenance hangars; or the construction of a city with an office park and hotels. These and others are other projects that are planned in the next Master Plan.

A silent airport

Josep Tarradellas Barcelona El Prat Airport is classified as a silent airport. This is because it has reduced the amount of public information messages broadcast by loudspeakers. In this way, it contributes to making the stay more pleasant and silent, both for travellers and their companions, and for the airport employees themselves.

The suppression of these messages applies only to boarding and last call messages from the automatic public address system that were heard in the Sky Center commercial area in T1 and in the common area prior to the boarding modules in T2, except for contingency situations. The rest of the messages will continue to be broadcast without any change. Likewise, local public address messages will continue to be broadcast in the area near the boarding gate.

To support this measure, new flight information monitors have been added in the catering areas, which incorporate warnings indicated by the airlines themselves to go to the boarding gate in good time.

Recognitions, awards and airport recognition

Since its commissioning in 2009, Terminal T1 has received various awards, accolades and accolades. That same year, T1 received the award for Logistics Excellence from the ICIL Foundation, the award for the Best National Project of the year at the Barcelona Meeting Point and the El Vigía award for the best infrastructure of the year.

The award for the Best European Airport with more than 25 million passengers, awarded by the Airport Council International (ACI) was awarded in 2010 and 2014. It has received other awards, such as the Ali Bei award for the best contribution to quality tourism, and the ASTER communication award for the "Volem" communication campaign.

In 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016, at the World Airport Awards, the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat airport received the Skytrax award in the category of Best Airport in Southern Europe. In 2012, the digital publication Airline Network News & Analysis recognized Barcelona-El Prat with the Euro Annie award as the Airport with the highest passenger growth in Europe in the highest category (more than 10 million passengers). Another of its awards came in 2017 from Airline Network News and Analysis, which recognizes Barcelona Airport as the Airport with the most new long-haul routes of the year (between August 2016 and August 2017). At the 2018 Best Airport Awards, ACI Europe awarded it the "highly commended" distinction in the category of airports with "More than 25 million passengers". In 2021, with far fewer passengers due to Covid-19, Barcelona-El Prat remains the 7th Best airport in the category of airports with between 10-15 million passengers.

The most recent and best valued prizes have been awarded in the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aena's effort to implement health measures that guarantee the safety of passengers and its staff has earned it the Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) Certification from ACI Europe in 2021, the 5-star rating in the "Covid-19 Safety Ratings" from the prestigious consulting firm Skytrax, and the "Covid-19 Airport Excellence Award" from Skytrax itself. In 2022, the airport received the "Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award for the best hygiene measures" in the Europe region.

In recent years, the airport has been recognized for its efforts in terms of sustainability and passenger experience, obtaining Level 3 of the ACI Europe Airport Carbon Accreditation in 2021, and in 2022 the "highly commended" distinction in the "more than 40 million passengers" category at the Best Airport Awards and the "Voice of the Customer" recognition from ACI Europe.