The small nation of Andorra is looking for a way to connect to the outside world as a way to open itself up to business and opportunity. The country’s Chamber of Commerce believes that a national airport project could be “the best strategic option” to promote the economic transformation of the country. Let’s look at what the tentative plan is.
A country without an airport of its own
Andorra is the epitome of a microstate. While not quite as small as The Vatican, the country has a population of just 77,000 across an area of 468 square kilometers. For comparison, the area considered to be Greater London is 1,569 square kilometers.
The country consists predominantly of rugged mountains, making road transportation difficult, particularly when conditions are challenging, such as during the winter months.
It’s with this background in mind that Andorra’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Services has been actively working on the country’s infrastructure to improve communications and, at the same time, the country’s competitiveness.
“The stagnation that the economy has been showing in recent years, especially since 2017 and the sharp fall in activity throughout 2020 due to the health crisis, show the exhaustion of the current economic model, the excessive dependence on local tourism, the low economic diversification and our fragility in the face of the economic, political and social dependence of neighboring countries.
”The national airport project [is] the best strategic option and possible lever for change to promote the economic transformation of Andorra and to achieve solid and sustainable economic growth…” – Andorra Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services
The Andorra Airport plan
For the last year and a half, the Chamber of Commerce has been working on a three-axis plan that includes rail connections, internal mobility, and a national airport. It was concluded that both the airport and rail links were “two ideal infrastructures to improve the country’s international communications,” the official statement noted.
The technical feasibility study for the national airport has been completed in collaboration with NAVBLUE (of the Airbus group) and CGX Aero. This study examined flight procedures and infrastructure (terminal, runway, and other complementary airport facilities).
The video below demonstrates the location of the planned airport and what an approach and landing would look like. The bulk of interesting visuals is in the latter part of the video.
AirwaysMag points out that the new airport will be built at an altitude of 1,987 meters with a runway 1,800 meters in length. This will allow it to accommodate narrowbody aircraft like the Airbus A220 and A320 as well as the Boeing 737.
Project feasibility in doubt
While the idea is exciting, there is doubt whether or not the project is actually achievable.
Andorran newspaper El Periodic notes that the evaluation of the technical reports by the Andorran Aeronautical Authority (AAA) concluded that “the limitations and safety of the project are in doubt” and “are important enough not to continue with the project.”
Even before the most recent studies, a 2007 ICAO technical study on the lands of the nearby Moretó Forest established they were not technically suitable for building an airport.
The Social Democrat political party, PS (Partit Socialdemòcrata), is calling for more transparency from the government as well as for more consultation with the public. It also wants to continue working on the development of the nearby Andorra-La Seu d’Urgell Airport (LEU), located across the border in Spain, 30km away from Andorra’s capital, Andorra la Vella.
Do you think Andorra should get its own airport? Do you think it’s even possible? Let us know in the comments.