August 2, 2021

In Andorra, an airport project arouses an outcry

The Airbus A320neo flies over the Pyrenean peaks, the Andorran valleys, the capital Andorra la Vella, then lands delicately on a short track, in the Envalira cirque, at the foot of the tunnel of the same name which connects the valley to the Pas de la Casa, about ten kilometers from France. The video, published on March 16 by the Chamber of Commerce of Andorra, is for the moment only a fiction, produced in synthetic images.

The project, whose technical feasibility has been entrusted to the company Navblue (Airbus group) and CGX Aero, aims to develop high-end luxury tourism. Its cost is estimated at 345 million euros. Located at an altitude of 1,987 meters, the airport has a runway 1,800 meters long and 45 meters wide, covered parking lots, a reception hall with orange, tapered and modern shapes. The location chosen, according to the project leaders, would be “Protected from the prevailing winds and the risk of avalanches, and would allow the airport to be open all year round despite the often harsh weather in Andorra”.

The runway could support Airbus A220s or A320 and Boeing 737-600, whose range allows reaching Finland and Russia, or Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Objective stated: to welcome up to 500,000 passengers per year, out of the usual 3 million who travel to the small territory of 72,000 inhabitants, known for its ski resorts and shops selling duty-free products.

A “project from another age”

To reach Andorra currently, by regular airline, you have to go through the airports of Toulouse or Perpignan or, on the Spanish side, those of Barcelona or Girona. For about thirty years, the solution of the train, too expensive, has been abandoned, like that of an airport in Ariège, halfway between Toulouse and the principality.

The presentation of the project made some residents, political and economic leaders jump. ” A madness “, according to Joan Viladomat, president of the company president of the company Saetde which operates the station of Grandvalira. “A monstrosity”, for the former head of the socialist government, Jaume Bartumeu. “At the beginning, we even thought it was a joke”, says Claude Benet. This English teacher, former Minister of Tourism from 2009 to 2011, has formed a movement – Ad.Hoc – which wants to fight against this « project from another age, which would destroy biodiversity, cover a river, displace wetlands … not to mention the noise and danger of these planes passing just overhead. “

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