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.


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It generally is a good move. No one needs to fly between Madrid and Barcelona. But my fear is loosing the passengers who are only transferring at MAD. Barajas is a huge hub for both Iberia and Air Europa, offering many long haul flights mainly to the Americas, especially to Latin America. I don’t think people from Barcelona want to travel to Atocha station in Madrid, then take the Cercanías (commuter train) and at the airport check-in and again through security (there is a security check at train stations for the AVE high speed train services in Spain). Maybe they… Read more »

Moaz Abid

Flying time is shorter, but by the time you get through security and other stuff, you probably will lose to the train or draw. And it also increases our co2


But people who have a long haul flight from Madrid will need to go “through security and other stuff” anyway. So for transferring passengers it is more convenient to do all that in BCN already, get on a flight to MAD and transfer to their long haul flight within the same terminal. They most likely would NOT take a train from Barcelona to Madrid to go to the airport there, that’s not convenient at all. Instead they would fly via other hubs like London or Paris. Which would mean the number of flights from Barcelona to those other hubs would… Read more »


SXFlyer: Maybe Iberia could open a check in desk at Atocha station. As soon as you arrive, drop your bags, get your boarding pass, and jump on a shuttle to Barajas (of course, if time permits you can have a quick stroll through Museo Reina Sofia).

They should also sell codeshare rail/fly tickets, so that if your train is late you are entitled to a rebooked flight (the same as if your flight from Barcelona is late).

Hector Vazquez

I believe MAD-BCN is one of the busiest routes in the World.


It is. It also is as far as I know the only domestic flight in Europe with regular use of widebody aircraft.

High Mile Club

If it’s generating money for the airport, I doubt they’ll shut the route. Plus, this could affect passengers who are trying to make connections to other places, in which case time is a serious concern. Aside from possible delays, if I have a bit of a tight turn around between connections, I’d rather take a plane for better convenience and time management. Does the mayor consider the thoughts of those that prefer a shorter trip instead of focusing on carbon footprints? (Not that planes produce much in lieu of a car)

Domjan Attila

Lufthansa sell ticket in Germany with DB train connection. As I know it is not available in Spain yet.


Flight+Train and Flight+Bus has been available in Spain for some years.


Very good! it’s time we see more leaders who take the right decision when it’s not the popular one. Making this route by plane should be banned. To our children this would sound like a very bad joke, more than 20 times the emissions, and for a slower ride! (consider also 1+ hours checking in, 15-20 minutes more time spent at the airport after the wheels touch down, then the considerable time spent going to and from the airports). I hope this passes and becomes a nation-wide and continent-wide bill. We simply have no other choice if we want to… Read more »


El Puente Aéreo was the busiest route in the world until the AVE was introduced.
We are talking about 2 huge cities with econonomic, social, domestic relations. Plus, Barajas generated almost the same number of passengers in 2019 compared to CDG in Paris so, not sure if Colau did some maths before offering this genious idea of hers together with all the rest that ruined the city of Barcelona. Thanks, we need a fresh mind.


If the train is competitive with the plane, then I will always choose the train.


That’s how it should be. Passengers making the decision for themselves rather than governments.

Gerry S

All for the environment 100%. But this is ludicrous. Give me a break!


They should allow connecting traffic only – including those making their own connections the same day (issue a pass of some sort on arrival). Disallowing connections through one, to the other: – limits the number of potential departure airports, as many routes are only to one or the other; – limits the number of available dates from some airports, as many flights don’t run daily; – raises prices, as eliminating connections through one to the other represents a huge decrease in potential routings; – forces people not willing to shell out for direct flights to their destination (but that can… Read more »


Turkish Airlines uses its Boeing 777 series Long-Haul aircrafts for İstanbul – Ankara Route (352 Km) and İstanbul – Bodrum Routes (461 Km). “Turkish Airlines adds 777-300ER Istanbul – Bodrum service in S20” Please check the Turkish Airlines Website and see that: On February 4, 2020 from İstanbul IST to Ankara ESB – Flight Number TK 2126 – 08:00 IST to 09:20 ESB Flight. Aircraft model is Boeing 777 300 ER. You can calculate the distance between İstanbul and Ankara here: İt is only 352 km You can calculate the distance between İstanbul and Bodrum here: It… Read more »


Horrible idea I must say. The trains are not really well designed for this option. They already struggle to accommodate the luggage for 1/3 of the travellers so removing the Puente Aereo will mean still less space. Not only people from Barcelona and Madrid takes these trains, also people living in Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Lerida, Tarragona uses the train in order to be able to get to the main airports and travel. Some of the trains are already dated, with high steps between them and the platform making very difficult the access to the train for people with reduce mobility or… Read more »


“high steps between them and the platform making very difficult the access to the train for people with reduce mobility or families travelling with young children”

I think you’ll find that steps onto planes are a lot higher


Let’s see how dumping another 2-3mil passengers on an already busy service works out and ultimately due to less competition prices will rise even if they decrease in the short term. Today train is often over 200euros return excessive to say the least. Maybe Colau can stop the cruise ships from coming to Barcelona , peraflautas from taking over properties illegally , stop dangers sellers and buskers all over Barcelona , stop illegal referendums , stop burning of the city , refuse to give jobs to friends , promise she will not take a consulting job with companies that she… Read more »


Seems like she’s a strong FC Barcelona fan 😂