Surpassing London's Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schipol, Madrid's international airport will become Europe's third busiest in terms of departures in 2010, Europe's air navigation agency Eurocontrol said.
The number of takeoffs from Madrid-Barajas is expected to rise to 255,442 in 2010, a 17% jump over last year and the biggest increase amongst Europe's ten busiest airports, according to a study presented by the agency.
Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport will remain Europe's busiest airport with over 297,000 departures in 2010 while Frankfurt's Main airport will continue in second place with over 265,000 takeoffs, the study said.
Madrid-Barajas airport opened a fourth terminal in 2006 and doubled the number of runways to four which has attracted a growing number of low-cost carriers. Barcelona's El Prat airport, which is scheduled to open a fourth terminal in 2009, will experience the second highest rate of growth in departures, reaching 190,739 in 2010, a 16% increase over last year, the study predicted.
"Madrid and Barcelona have capacity (to grow) but they need to work to make this available," said Eurocontrol director general Victor Aguado, adding new infrastructure was not necessarily needed. "It means developing operational systems, organizing runways and the control tower."
Spain received 58 million visitors last year, making it the second most visited country in the world after France.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007