Chaos as Barajas airport terminal 4 takes off

6th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 February 2006, MADRID — Assorted errors plagued the first day of business at the Madrid-Barajas Airport's new fourth terminal, causing dozens of passengers to miss their flights, experience long delays and lose their baggage.

6 February 2006

MADRID — Assorted errors plagued the first day of business at the Madrid-Barajas Airport's new fourth terminal, causing dozens of passengers to miss their flights, experience long delays and lose their baggage.

Others complained about the noise from flights in their neighbourhoods near the airport.

The expansion of the facility - which has cost EUR 6.2 billion and includes the new T-4 terminal, two runways, two aircraft parking zones and 65 corridors for passengers embarking or disembarking the aircraft - was inaugurated on Saturday by prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

At 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, an Iberia Airbus 320 took off for Barcelona, the first flight to use the facility's new runways.

Development minister Magdalena Alvarez, who was on hand at the airport, said that operations were proceeding "reasonably well," but she acknowledged the existence of some "minor problems that have already been corrected".

Alvarez said, however, that it would be a few days before all the little glitches in the airport's expanded operations would be ironed out.

During the morning, dozens of travellers - some of them heading for Argentina, Brazil, the United States and Venezuela - filed complaints after they missed their flights due to delays in making their connections between the three old terminals and the new one.

There were other mistakes in baggage handling and check-in procedures, which resulted in them being directed to the wrong gates.

Iberia Airlines said that "many problems were due to the fact that passengers had gone to the old terminals and arrived at the new terminal with no time" to catch their flights properly.

On board the first flight departing for Barcelona were about 20 residents of several northern Madrid neighbourhoods who said they were being affected by the noise of aircraft flying over their homes.

Upon landing in Barcelona, they went to the town of Gava-Mar to join the public protest there over the noise from planes landing and taking off at the north-eastern Catalonian city's Prat airport.

Upon returning to Madrid later in the day, the capital residents carried a poster reading "Against the noise and risk of Big Barajas" and told EFE that they had complained to the European Parliament about the problems they are experiencing in their neighbourhoods due to aircraft noise.

In addition, several dozen of Iberia's ground-based workers demonstrated in the terminal in keeping with a 24-hour strike called to protest the management plan presented by the company.

Also on Sunday, Iberia celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first flight between Europe and Latin America after the end of World War Two, which the airline flew between Madrid and Buenos Aires.

With the opening of the airport's new facilities, Barajas will now be able to accommodate up to 120 takeoffs and landings per hour - up from 78 prior to the renovations - and its terminals now will be able to handle 70 million passengers annually, up from the 41 million served in 2005.

Zapatero on Saturday inaugurated the enlargement of Madrid-Barajas Airport, which he described as a "gateway to every continent ... (extending) a bridge full of future between America and Europe".

The enlargement of Barajas was designed and executed over the last 10 years and has required building parking facilities for 9,000 vehicles, new access roads, a tunnel for airport services, two electric power plants and new security systems.

The new terminal consists of two buildings, whose design was entrusted by state-run Spanish Airports and Air Navigation (AENA) to the architectural studios of Briton Richard Rogers and Spaniard Carlos Lamela.

Barajas will now also have a shopping area covering more than 24,000 square metres (258,000 square feet) and outstanding technological advances such as an automated baggage-handling system which can process up to 16,500 pieces of luggage per hour, plus an automated system for transporting passengers able to move some 2,000 people in the same amount of time.

Architects Lamela and Simon Smithson, representative of the Rogers studio, recognized that the enlargement of Madrid-Barajas makes it one of the most important airports in Europe and the world.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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