The expansion of the Madrid-Barajas airport would trigger emissions of air pollutants between 20% and 35%, according to a study carried out by Ecologistas en Acción that questions the conversion of the Madrid aerodrome into a ‘hub’ for long-distance flights due to its high environmental impact. The plan designed by the Ministry of Transport and AENA proposes increasing the operational capacity of the infrastructure to accommodate up to 80 million passengers a year. The renewal and coordinated management of terminals 1, 2 and 3 was then proposed; as well as the expansion of terminals 4 and 4S, to accommodate more large aircraft destined.
This reconversion, supported by aeronautical groups such as IAG —owner of Iberia or Vueling— that the gateway to Central and South America comes to Madrid, would inevitably lead to an increase in long and medium-haul routes and, with it, an increase in emissions pollutants into the atmosphere. Ecologists denounce that this plan does not include an analysis of the social, ecological and environmental consequences of the increase in capacity”, despite the fact that since 2018 it is known that Barajas is the fourth airport that emits the most pollution, surpassed by Paris-Charles de Gaull e, Frankfurt and Amsterdam-Schiphol.
For Pablo Muñoz, aviation coordinator at Ecologistas en Acción, this plan is “incompatible” with the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan, “which sets a 46% reduction in transport emissions.” In his opinion, the increase in the number of operations “would aggravate the problems of air pollution and noise suffered daily by people who live around the airport.”
Minimum increase of 10% due to increased traffic
In its study, the environmental organization has analyzed the activity of Barajas during the last decade, projecting three scenarios of demand and routes for the year 2030: one of natural growth without expansion, an expansion with moderate demand and another with high demand. The report takes into account some aviation trends, such as the reduction in short-distance operations —which will be gradually replaced by the train— compared to an increase in medium and long-distance routes, which could grow between 32% and 70% compared to those registered in 2019.
After quantifying the operations and their specific emissions, it concludes that, in the event of the expansion being carried out, CO2 emissions would grow between 20.6 and 35%, NOx emissions would grow between 20.7% and 30.1%. compared to those of 2019, and suspended particles (PM2.5 and PM10) would increase between 22.4% and 30.5% derived from the increase in the number of flights. If it were not developed, the inevitable increase in traffic would also raise pollution by between 9% and 12% for a moderate growth; and 16% and 26% for the high demand scenario.
Ecologists has published a series of recommendations to try to alleviate this increase in emissions, such as limiting operations or emissions from the facility; Eliminate alternative rail routes and make it impossible to use the ‘slots’ that are released for other flights, or implement “tax and price measures on tickets.”