International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR)

Pedro Sánchez announces the start of the Barajas airport expansion with an investment of €2.4 billion

President's News - 2024.1.26

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International Trade Fair (IFEMA), Madrid

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, announced at the 44th edition of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) the launch of the project to expand Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, with an investment of €2.4 billion, the largest made in the last decade in airport infrastructure in Spain. The president made the announcement during his speech at the event 'Social Sustainability: designing tomorrow's tourism today', which was also attended by the Minister for Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Óscar Puente, and the Minister for Industry and Tourism, Jordi Hereu.

The huge investment to expand the Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas airport will result in a "strong growth in capacity and routes, the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs and the generation of wealth", said Pedro Sánchez. He also recalled that these airport facilities already directly and indirectly account for nearly 10% of the GDP of the Community of Madrid.

He highlighted that with this investment the Government of Spain and Aena are seeking to strengthen the airport's leadership of the hub with Latin America, and will develop the hub with Asia with new routes and airlines that operate with this continent. The expansion will mean that the airport's capacity will reach 90 million passengers by 2031, an increase of 28% on the current figure. "It will be the airport with the greatest potential for growth in Europe", stressed the President of the Government.

The project also incorporates elements of environmental sustainability that are pioneering at world level in this type of facility. Specifically, the construction of the largest solar plant at a European airport, with a peak capacity of 140 megawatts, is already under way at this infrastructure. "We will turn Madrid airport into one of the largest airports in the EU, with a vocation to consolidate itself as a hub for connections between Europe, Latin America and Asia", Pedro Sánchez stressed.

Spain, a world power in tourism: breaking all records

Pedro Sánchez at the controls of a train driving simulator at FITUR 2024 | Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

During his participation in "the best tourism fair in the world", the president expressed his satisfaction that the tourism sector in Spain "is maintaining its world leadership and has overcome in record time an unprecedented crisis", referring to the Covid health emergency, and the fact that it broke "all records" in 2023. In particular, last year ended with a record 84 million visitors; record revenues of €108 billion, and an increase in tourism expenditure of more than 17% compared to pre-pandemic levels and almost 24% compared to 2022.

In addition, 2023 closed with a record number of jobs in the tourism sector, with more than 2.5 million national insurance contributors, the highest number of jobs since records began, and of higher quality, since in the third quarter of 2023 the temporary employment rate in the sector stood at 21%, five points lower than a year ago.

Among the "solid" reasons for Spain's world leadership in tourism, the chief executive highlighted the work of the tourism sector to diversify its offer and to provide a better experience to visitors, a better quality of tourism services, good company management, worker professionalism and quality infrastructures.

He also emphasised the network of public services that offer visitors "security, peace of mind and confidence", such as the "excellent public health system", the climate and "the coexistence, social peace and diversity of Spain, a source of attraction and prosperity for our country".

Tourism model: quality, digitalisation and sustainability

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, together with the Ministers for Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Óscar Puente, and for Industry and Tourism, Jordi Hereu, at the RENFE stand at FITUR 2024 | Fotos: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

With regard to the policies implemented by the Government, Sánchez stressed that "a lot of things have been done well", with actions aimed at transforming the tourism model, prioritising environmental sustainability and digital transformation. To this end, the amount dedicated to tourism in the 2023 State Budget exceeded €1 billion, an increase of 350% compared to 2018.

This is in addition to the €3.4 billion of the Recovery Plan, dedicated to the sustainable and digital transformation of the sector, of which €2.64 billion will be managed by the autonomous communities. At this point, Pedro Sánchez thanked all the companies in the tourism sector for their "commitment", highlighting institutional collaboration as another of the keys to the success of Spanish tourism, a sector that is "an example of co-governance, mutual understanding and public-private collaboration".

In his speech, he stressed the need to introduce the principles of circular economy into management and to promote energy efficiency, as well as to deconcentrate the tourism offer by focusing on emerging destinations and on "the immense potential and attractiveness of inland Spain".

In the field of digital transformation, he detailed that the creation of an 'industrial data space' has just been launched within the framework of the Plan for the Modernisation and Competitiveness of the Tourism Sector, to support the digital transformation of the sector towards the intensive use of 'big data' and artificial intelligence, and an innovation platform for the development of applications, products and services for companies in the sector. These measures, he added, should be accompanied by training and re-qualification in digital skills for workers in the sector.

The chief executive indicated that the 2024 edition of Fitur will be characterised by "optimism based on good results", and expressed his hope that it will also serve to open "a new era for Spanish tourism of consolidation and growth based on quality, digitisation and sustainability".

PPS: more than 780,000 new jobs in Navantia

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, visits the Paradores stand at FITUR 2024 | Fotos: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The visit to Fitur by the President of the Government coincided with the publication of data from the 2023 Labour Force Survey (EPA). He described the year as "formidable", thanks to the "extraordinary" employment figures recorded, despite the international challenges that have marked the year, such as inflation and the energy crisis.

In just one year, Spain created more than 780,000 jobs and has 400,000 more households with active members in employment, and temporary employment is at a new record low, at 16.5%. "Today Spain is growing and creating more and better quality jobs, despite the difficult geopolitical context", said the president.

Non official translation