MIAMI – Why would one of the smallest countries in Europe, totaling 77,000 inhabitants, one city, and a few villages want an international airport?
The answer is of course to open up to the world. The project is from the Principality of Andorra, a small state in the Pyrenees mountains, sandwiched between France and Spain, with no railway access whose nearest international airports are located either in Barcelona (BCN) or in Toulouse (TLS).
A Project to Enhance Tourism and Development
The project has been seriously taken up by the local CCI (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and the development study carried out by NavBlue, a TLS based Airbus Group Company, and CGX Aero, a data processing for decision making and aeronautical information company based in Castres (France), which have already completed the initial feasibility of the project. The Andorran CCI has earmarked an initial budget of US$441m (€345m).
The new Thimphu-Buthan-like airport, announced by a press release issued by the Andorran CCI, is to be built at an altitude of 2000mt, must deal with multiples constraints in view of the terrain’s configuration but it is seen as a unique way for Andorra to exit isolation and gain direct access to its territory for tourism that represents the prime resource for the country.
Tourism has different aspects, one is the traditional one, scenery and mountains, and winter sports according to the season, but also as a giant duty-free shopping destination, today’s visited only by French and Spanish shoppers arriving by route transportation. One less-known touristic aspect is the tax heaven represented by Andorra.
The surface connections are not considered reliable because of natural causes, particularly in winter, due to emergencies such as the current pandemic that concurred to the isolation of the Principality.
A Way to Reach Out and to Be Reached
The new airport is to be built at just under 2000mt (1987 exactly) altitude, with a runway 1800mt long and 45mt wide capable to accommodate aircraft such as Airbus A220 and A320neo as well as Boeing 737NG.
The idea is to bring in the reach of the Principality destinations as far as Russia and Finland on the North, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) at the East while towards the South may reach as far as the Republic of Congo.
The project did not go thru without opposition, however, and Joan Viladomat, President of the Company in charge of the Andorran ski resort, termed the project as a “folie,” a craziness.
Featured image: Artist’s view of the Andorra International Airport – Image: Andorra CCI