CORONAVIRUS

Spanish airports to increase operations from July 1 in preparation for tourist arrivals

Spain’s Aena authority is set to reopen terminals in Madrid and Barcelona next month, when travel restrictions into the EU are gradually lifted

Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos (2nd l) visits Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas to supervise the introduction of coronavirus security measures.
Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos (2nd l) visits Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas to supervise the introduction of coronavirus security measures.Daniel Ramo / EFE

Spain’s airport operator, Aena, announced on Monday that it will increase operations in the country’s main airports from July 1, when travel restrictions into the European Union will be gradually lifted.

Since March, travel to Spain has been tightly restricted due to the coronavirus crisis, with only essential travelers and residents allowed into the country. This led to a sharp drop in flights to Spain and forced many airports to close or suspend operations.

These restrictions are set to ease as the country relaxes the coronavirus lockdown. Nearly 11,000 visitors from Germany on Monday began to fly to Spain’s Balearic Islands as part of a tourism pilot scheme. Tourists from the EU and the Schengen free-travel area – including the United Kingdom – will officially be allowed from June 21, with the exception of Portugal. And on July 1, other international travelers will be allowed to enter Spain as part of the EU’s coordinated move to lift travel restrictions. But this will be contingent on a reciprocal agreement and taking into account the epidemiological situation in the countries of origin, among other factors.

In preparation for the expected surge in tourists, on Monday Aena released a plan to resume activity in Spain’s main airports that includes reopening terminals and facilities that have been closed due to the pandemic.

In Madrid, only Terminal 4 (T4) is currently in operation at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport. Terminal 1, which has been closed since April, will reopen on July 1. And in the next few weeks, Aena will decide when to reopen T2, T3 and the satellite terminal (T4S). This decision will depend on the ongoing health and economic crisis, the restrictions on movement and the developments in air traffic, which are still unknown factors.

In Barcelona, Aena will progressively increase operations at the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat airport as airlines resume flights to the city. The T1 side dock is set to reopen in July, joining zones A and D, which have remained operational during the coronavirus crisis. The terminals T2A and T2B will reopen in August, when a rise in passengers and flights is expected.

In Palma de Mallorca airport in Spain’s Balearic Islands, one third of Terminal C is expected to open on June 15 to coincide with the beginning of the tourist pilot scheme. Of the 47 flights scheduled to arrive in the archipelago over the next two weeks, 38 will land in Palma de Mallorca, eight in Ibiza and one in Menorca. More of the airport will resume activity in August, with Terminal C and A set to be completely operational in September.

Aena will progressively reopen the rest of Spain’s airports as the state of alarm comes to an end on June 21 and travel restrictions are lifted. This plan is part of a broader project to reorganize the airport network as Spain enters the so-called “new normality” following a prolonged coronavirus lockdown and deescalation process.

Coronavirus safety measures

Over the last few weeks, Aena has been implementing coronavirus safety measures to ensure that the travelers can fly safely. Informational posters have been placed in key areas of airports, and hand sanitizer dispensers, floor markers to indicate safe distances and protective screens have also been introduced. What’s more, reminders to wear face masks and keep apart from other travelers are emitted every five minutes over the airport loudspeakers.

From July 1, Aena’s airports will screen for potential coronavirus cases using thermal-imaging cameras, which can check the body temperature of several people simultaneously, an improvement from doing it one at a time with a thermometer pointed at a person’s forehead.

Travelers will also have to complete a Passenger Location Card (PLC), which they must fill in with information about any coronavirus symptoms they might have, and their contact address during their stay in Spain. These forms, which are currently handed out, will be computerized to make the process faster and avoid large gatherings in airports. Similar measures have been included in the tourism scheme in the Balearic Islands.

Aena’s plan has been developed following the recommendations set out by the European Commission and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and in collaboration with EU member states, the airport association ACI Europe and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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