TENERIFE South airport must have a new terminal this year if it is to cope with any increase in tourists numbers, warns the Canary Islands Government.
Onán Cruz, its Infrastructure and Transport Deputy Minister, along with Tourism Minister Cristóbal de la Rosa, have called for a budget amendment to allow the popular, Granadilla de Abona-based airport to be expanded.
They say the two existing terminal buildings are not enough to cope with any, above-average, influx of tourists, even if joined together, as the Spanish Government’s airport investment plan includes.
Tenerife-Reina Sofía, otherwise known as Tenerife South, was built in 1978 and has not been modified significantly since.
In fairness, nearly 40 years ago, Tenerife could never have dreamed of the volume of tourism it now welcomes.
But now, though, its structure and facilities are “out of date and do not have the capacity” required of a modern airport in a major holiday hotspot, which receives more than 11 million passengers a year.
But, says Cruz, the Airport Regulation Document (DORA) 2017-2021 has hugely under-estimated passenger numbers, which means that funding proposed is “clearly insufficient”.
The DORA goes as far, only, as joining the two current terminals together in 2019. But right now, Tenerife South airport is “fit to burst”, even out of season, according to the two ministers.
They actually filed a funding request to the Spanish Government last July, pointing out that, according to forecasts, tourist numbers for the El Hierro island were expected to treble by the year 2030. And that, in response they said, the DORA had included a 900m runway extension.
Tenerife is likely to see a similar, or even larger, rise in visitor numbers. Yet the neighbouring and much smaller island of La Gomera has also had a runway extension approved, despite receiving far fewer tourists.
Cristóbal de la Rosa says AENA, the airport governing body, needs to start investing seriously in the Canary Islands, given that it is “one of the leading tourist destinations in Europe”.
He adds: “Practically everyone who travels to the region goes there by air, and residents themselves can get from one island to another, only by plane.”
De La Rosa has also urged the Civil Aviation Authority to restore the La Gomera-Gran Canaria air route, which operated between 2007 and 2009, under the banner of “Public Service Obligation” (OSP).
It meant that it was considered to be a necessary facility for the ordinary resident, which should be in place, whether or not it made a profit.
For the last eight years, it has been possible to fly between La Gomera and Gran Canaria, via a connecting flight only, with a Tenerife stop making the journey much longer, and less convenient.
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