This is one of the only profitable airports in this crisis

Updated 05/21/2020 at 12:53 p.m.

Spain

Who said that all airports are suffering from the pandemic? That of Teruel, in the east of the country, has never operated its turbines so much.

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Planes from various airlines are currently being serviced and repaired at Teruel Airport in eastern Spain.

AFP

  About a hundred aircraft rest at this airport, which is the largest site in Europe dedicated to this type of service.

About a hundred aircraft rest at this airport, which is the largest site in Europe dedicated to this type of service.

AFP

Teruel Airport was designed from the start for industrial purposes, to take advantage of this immense space located at an altitude of 1,000 meters, and the dry and sunny climate favorable to the maintenance of aircraft.

Teruel Airport was designed from the start for industrial purposes, to take advantage of this immense space located at an altitude of 1,000 meters, and the dry and sunny climate favorable to the maintenance of aircraft.

AFP

Since mid-March, the pandemic has grounded almost all of the world’s planes, causing airport operators to sweat cold. But in a huge plain in eastern Spain, there is an airport, that of Teruel, specializing in the maintenance and recycling of aircraft that boasts of being profitable without passengers. He even does better by saying that since the beginning of the health crisis, his business has been flourishing.

Under a bright sun, a hundred aircraft rest in this very special airport which is the largest site in Europe dedicated to this type of service. Among them, nine Airbus A380s, the largest passenger aircraft, and a Boeing 747.

Red tarpaulins protect the engines from dirt and nesting birds, and employees dressed in yellow vests grease parts, replace them, do checks. “We work for the world market,” says airport manager Alejandro Ibrahim. Customers include Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Iberia, Avianca, Etihad, China Eastern …

Careful interviews while waiting for the best days

There had never been so many planes here since the opening of the airport in 2013, which could reach its maximum capacity of 125 planes within a month, while 78 were stationed there before the Covid pandemic- 19 does not lead to border closures and massive flight cancellations.

“The service we offer to our customers, which are airlines and leasing companies, has intensified due to the current high need for maintenance and long-term parking, by specialized personnel”, analyzes M Ibrahim.

“The goal is that when flights resume normally, the plane will be able to do so.”

Pedro Saez, managing director of Tarmac Aragon

The work is extremely meticulous: simple parking involves different daily, weekly, monthly and even semi-annual tasks. The goal is that “when the flights resume normally, (the plane) is in conditions to be able to do so,” explains Pedro Saez, general manager of Tarmac Aragon, the local branch of the French Tarmac Aerosave, a private company providing services on the airport, which is managed by a public consortium.

Founded in 2007, Tarmac Aerosave is also located in Tarbes, in the French Pyrenees, and in Toulouse (south-west of France). Its three sites can accommodate a total of 250 devices. In Teruel, the 80-hectare site includes, in addition to aircraft parking spaces, two hangars, one of which is 6,000 m² for large aircraft.

Next to the hangar are at least five planes being recycled, a process that recovers “94% of the weight of the plane for reuse in the aeronautical industry,” says Saez, listing the parts. recycled: engines, landing gear, computers, flight controls, aluminum, steel, titanium … “On average, 1,500 to 2,000 parts are reused”, he underlines.

24% revenue increase

Teruel Airport was designed from the start for industrial purposes, to take advantage of this immense space located at an altitude of 1,000 meters, and the dry and sunny climate favorable to the maintenance of aircraft.

The area, which is very sparsely populated, also has the advantage of “not being congested by air traffic, which allows airplanes to access it easily”, underlines Mr. Ibrahim.

In 2020, the director hopes for a 24% increase in revenues for the airport, which offers more competitive parking rates than the major commercial airports.

Bright future

The outlook is so positive that a public investment of 25 million euros is planned in the next two years to, among other things, build a new hangar capable of housing two A380s and expand the parking space to be able to park there. total 350 aircraft.

“We can afford to grow,” adds Pedro Saez, confident in the “high demand” for the services of Tarmac, a company with its capital the European Airbus consortium and the French Safran and Suez.

Alejandro Ibrahim does not rule out welcoming passengers in the future but it would be a “residual” activity, in an airport happy to have found himself on the right side of the barrier at the time of the sudden stop tourism caused by the coronavirus. “We did not have one before, we do not have one today and we are therefore not affected by the current lack of passenger traffic,” he said.

((AFPE)

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