Barcelona airport expansion cancelled as Germany surveys complete national flying ban in some situations while Spain gets more EU money to cushion Brexit effects

The Spanish Government has cancelled a planned investment of €1.7bn to expand El Prat airport in Barcelona. Local leaders in Catalonia reacted with anger to the announcement by Raquel Sánchez, Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, saying that the move was inexplicable and broke firm agreements in place since early August. Naturally many see the decision grounded in anti-Catalonia sentiment, and indeed the cancellation of the plan has only been explained with vague references to “lack of consent”. Here in the Canaries, however, it has inevitably led to calls, notably by Ashotel, for urgent attention to be turned yet again to the frequently shelved plans to renovate and expand TFS.

Elsewhere, however, some are even thinking in terms of complete flying bans. Germany’s RTL has surveyed a complete ban on domestic flights and found that it would have 50% support: and that was just for a general question without specific critera like whether there were alternatives in place … support soars when there are. Although just a TV poll  (RTL is Germany’s largest private broadcaster), that is support for a complete ban on national flights where there is an effective rail or road alternative. There are, indeed, further EU-wide proposals for the reintroduction of night trains and far greater coordination between national rail systems throughout the continent.

Such qualitative and quantitative changes need funding, however, and so the EU has also announced a €5 billion EU fund to support people, companies and countries affected by the UK’s departure from the Union. The fund was agreed last year and will be paid until 2025, the first monies arriving by December this year. That money won’t be going to airport expansions, certainly, but Spain is seventh in the list of amounts of the Brexit cushion fund that countries will receive, getting to receive €250m which is allocated for a range of purposes including improved border control and increased national and territorial security. The funds can and will also be spent on job creation efforts, retraining, reintegrating EU nationals returning from the UK, small business support, border controls, increased security, and so on.