Barcelona’s Mayor Wants To Ban Flights To Madrid

In what will come as good news to the flight shame movement, Barcelona Mayor, Ada Colau, is looking to ban all flights between the Catalan capital and Madrid.

A few days ago, the 45-year-old first female Mayor of Barcelona announced that she will ask Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) to terminate all flights to Spanish cities that can be reached by high-speed train.


Barcelona Mayor wants people to take the train to Madrid. Photo: Uwe Gompf via Flickr

This, of course, would affect what is affectionately referred to as the “Puente Aereo” (Air Bridge) between Barcelona and the Spanish capital of Madrid.

In her proposal, the mayor points out that the high-speed AVE train (Alta Velocidad Española) between Barcelona and Madrid produces 20 times less CO2 than aircraft operating on the same route. The train makes 20 journeys in each direction every day and is almost always on time.

Spanish AVE trains can travel at 207 mph

Trains depart Barcelona Sants station to Madrid Atocha approximately every hour and five minutes, and can travel at speeds of up to 333 km/h (207 mph).

Non-stop trains take passengers from the center of Barcelona to the center of Madrid in two hours and 30 minutes. Trains that stop at Zaragoza take a little over three hours.

It takes 2.5 hrs to travel by train from Barcelona to Madrid. Photo: Renfe

Another area where the train has the edge is that its stations are in the city centers and not far out on the periphery of the city, as is almost always the case with airports.

Security too is less obtrusive, with you only needing to screen your bag before walking onto the platform. Once onboard the train, you have more space and are free to walk around and visit the cafeteria for a beverage or snack.

Three Spanish airlines fly between Barcelona and Madrid

Currently, Iberia, Vueling, and Air Europa offer 30 flights a day between the two airports. While the flying time is slightly over one hour, all the other reasons we mentioned above make it quicker to take the train.

Trains in Spain are not only fast but very comfortable. Photo: Renfe

Where the airline does have the upper hand, however, is the price of the ticket, which is often significantly cheaper than taking the train. Spanish national rail operator Renfe knows this and is working on reducing the cost of train travel on many of Spain’s busiest routes.

Also, unlike air travel, trains in Spain are seldom delayed. If you are unlucky and face a delay of five minutes or more, Renfe will reimburse your full ticket price.

Germany is trying to get people to take the train

Germany’s government is also looking at reducing rail fares to make more people travel by train and has decided to lower the tax passengers pay on rail tickets to 7%.

That’s not all, as starting in April of 2020, airline passengers will be charged a climate tax on airline tickets that will see fares rise by around 28%.

Train travel offers more space to move around and interact with family and friends. Photo: Renfe

The debate about Barcelona to Madrid flights is still ongoing and no one is sure if Ada Colau has the power to impose what would surely be a first for aviation.

What do you think about the Mayor’s proposal, and do you think it would catch on in other European cities where the train beats the plane?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section.