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Spain, being a Mediterranean country brimming with tourists coming to visit the beautiful beaches and historical locations, has one of the busiest airports in the world. The Adolfo Suarez International Airport lies only 6 miles away from Spain’s capital. The airport is operated by AENA, the acronym translation from Spanish meaning “Spanish Airports and Air Navigation.” It serves as an operational hub for two major airlines: Air Europa and Iberia; while Madrid with this airport is the focus city for Iberia Express, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Pullmantur Air, Ryanair, and Vueling. Stay with us to learn more on Spain’s oldest airport.
Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas International Airport
- Location: the Adolfo Suarez Madrid airport is located on the outskirts of Madrid, just less than 6 miles away from the city’s commercial center, and 8 miles away from Puerta del Sol, the historic center. The name is given after the nearby area of Barajas, which is one of the metro stations on the synonymous rail line which serves the airport. It ranks the number of 6th busiest airport in Europe, with an average passenger circulation of 50 million travelers per year.
- History: the airport was built in 1927 and started with operation on 22nd of April, 1931. It will take two more years for the airport to establish regular commercial flights; by the late 1930s, it offered steady lines to several European and African destinations. The first runway was an unpaved, the first paved runways were built in the 1940s. The first terminal was basically a small waiting area with a checkpoint, today the airport has 4 terminals. The last one, Terminal 4 is an international one and built in 2006 by the award-winning team of Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers. If we discuss size, this terminal, with its more than 8 million square feet, is one of the biggest international terminals in the world. The Terminal 4 is actually a complex made of several buildings- the mail building dubbed T4, and the satellite T4S, which stands two miles apart from the main building. The T4 edifice was contemplated with relaxation and user-friendliness on mind, as to give the international passengers as less stress as possible. The walls were replaced by glass panels, as to avoid the claustrophobic feeling and to allow more natural light to stream in. Additional natural light is also enabled by the multitude of domes that make the roof of the main building. A decade prior to the building of Terminal 4, the airport was refurnished with a new control tower and opened for cargo air transport. Most of the original 3 runways are not in use anymore, instead they are replaced with new, modern ones that can take the weight of heavier vessels. Such improvement was needed when the new Boeing 747 was made the most sought after commercial airplane. The airport is currently engaged into the renaming process, as it is planned to bear the name of Alfredo Suarez, the first democratic Prime Minister of Spain, who had a great role into installing democracy in the country ravaged by the dictatorship of Franco.
- Accessibility: as the airport is a stone throw away from both the economic and historical heart of the city, it is well connected and easily reachable by several means of transportation. The airport has a station of the Madrid Metro line. The Barajas Line 8 connects the terminals with stations in central Madrid. Two more metro lines were built that connect the airport with the more distant regions of the city, as well as with the intercity bus and rail road stations. Buses are provided by the Madrid Municipal Transport Company. The nightline is nicknamed “Buho” (meaning “Owl”) and it connects the airport with stations in Barajas and central Madrid, making it for a 24 hours per day, 365 days per year non-stop service. Airport shuttles are available for transport from one terminal to another, as well as long and short term parking space. As for taxi service, it can be a tad fickle with the prizes, same as with any other Mediterranean country. You can always opt for a rent-a-car option, a service offered by several companies stationed at the airport.
image by Jonathan Percy, license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
- Facilities: you can rent a room in more than 15 establishments located in and around the airport, accommodation ranging from hostels to private apartments to luxurious hotel service. As for the airport itself, all of the terminals come equipped with waiting rooms and lounges, covered with free wireless internet and user-friendly for people with special needs. You will find anything you need in the duty free shops and newsstands at the airport. If you are waiting for a prolonged period of time, you can relax at one of the many cafes, bakeries, or fancy restaurants. Spain is well known for its excellent cuisine, which is a mixture of local, Mediterranean traditions and Oriental influence. Make sure to have a glass of excellent Spanish wine with your dish and to treat yourself with a dessert made of lots of fresh fruit. The historical center of the city is one metro ride away from you, so you can use the lagged time to explore the city a bit. It will take lots of time to see Madrid in its full glory of wonders, but that small visit will be enough to prompt you to come back and explore things at a more leisured pace.
image by Jonathan Percy, license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0