Ana Pastor (Centre), accompanied by the mayor of Malaga and other authorities, on the new runway at Malaga airport. / Salvador Salas
On March 9th 1919 a small aircraft on its way from Toulouse (France) to Casablanca (Morocco) made a stopover in Malaga, landing on a strip of uncultivated land on the estate known as El Rompedizo. Little did French pilot Pierre-Georges Latécoère know that he was laying the foundations of what was to become Malaga airport. Almost a century later, the aerodrome has become a “reference in the Mediterranean” capable of generating “an economic volume of 15 billion euros” in its surrounding area, through tourism and services. This, at least, was how Minister Ana Pastor put it on Tuesday after she had inaugurated the second runway, putting the icing on the cake of the ‘Plan Málaga’ that involved the modernisation and expansion of the airport.
Over 13 years some 1.7 billion euros have been spent on the airport, the new runway and the T-3 terminal being the star projects.
Pastor stressed the potential of the airport as the “driving force behind economic development in Malaga, Andalucía and Spain as a whole”.
She shared the credit for the project with previous governments (both PSOE and PP), as “you have to try to finish all important works because that means the creation of wealth”.
With the opening of the second runway, the airport will have a capacity to deal with 65 flights an hour as opposed to the present 37. However in the current economic climate it is unlikely that this limit will be reached. In fact this summer the new facility will only be used when the existing strip is saturated, and outside the peak season the new runway could remain closed until demand picks up. Nevertheless the minister said she would confident that this would not be the case, and stressed that if it has been built it is because “at certain times the airport capacity was insufficient”. “We are going to work hard to make sure that it is used as much as possible”, she promised.
The mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, took the opportunity to remind the minister of the importance of high speed AVE trains reaching the airport so that this can become “the first great communications node in southern Spain”. Ana Pastor made no promises on this front but did mention another ongoing issue, the site of the former Benítez military camp. She did not fix a date for the land to be officially handed over to the City Hall but stressed the government’s commitment to giving the people of Malaga back “what is theirs”.