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 will fly via London Heathrow or other hubs instead, causing more frequent flights on some international routes and because of that actually increasing the CO2-emissions.

Maybe a good option would be to not allow airlines to offer booking tickets for only Madrid – Barcelona? So the number of flights between Madrid and Barcelona would be reduced drastically and the few still existing flights would be for transferring passengers ONLY.

Hector Vazquez

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

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.


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 keep something to our children.


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

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 afford flying to the other) to take 3 train rides (potentially with luggage) rather than a flight and single train ride

Alternatively, add high-speed options between one airport and the center of the other city.


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 is only 461 Km
You can also see Boeing 787-9 on Istanbul – Ankara Route (352 Km). Flight Number TK 2174 – February 12, 2020. 19:00 IST to 20:25 ESB.
If a European Airliner uses its 10.000 + Km Ultra Long Haul aircrafts (777 ER or A340 or A350 or A380 or 747 or 787) for only a 352 Km flight or 461 Km flight then CEO of this airliner will need to find a new job for him/her. Because he/she will be fired immediately!
A few weeks ago Germany announced to limit and regulate the domestic flights. And now Spain. I deeply appreciate both German and Spanish actions! Europeans are thinking to abandon 737 – A320 series aircrafts for domestic use but Turks are using 777 – 787 series for domestic use moreover for only 352 Km flight.
Turkish Airlines must order / buy hundreds of Turboprops like ATR / Pilatus / Saab or anything else to use domestic flights. If an airliner uses 777 300 ER for a 352 Km flight that means “A World Record” for CO2 Emmissions and Aircraft Waste.
Note: Turkish Railway system is the most dangerous on earth. You can see and read tens of disasters about “Turkish Train Crash”. So it looks impossible to invest in Railway in Turkey.
Here is some Crash Reports about Turkish Railway System but articles are in Turkish. You can translate by Google or Yandex or Bing Translator.


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 families travelling with young children – adding now the issue of struggling to place the luggage within the few minutes the train stops in between stations.
I just recently took the Ave from Zaragoza to Barcelona in order to get a flight. I was travelling with my mother and with my son, three years old. We are entitled to one check in luggage and one cabin bag each, so finding space for all the luggage plus the stroller is already stressful as the train departs within 5 minutes and every one jumps into it.
Then upon arrival you can’t find trolleys on the platform which makes almost impossible to leave the station.
It has been an horrible experience and I don’ recommend to travel this way to anyone.
If the Major really wants to go ahead with this idea first she should make sure they will provide a decent service.


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 has now awarded work too , then we can take her seriously !


Seems like she’s a strong FC Barcelona fan 😂