EU's open skies policy sends Spanish aerospace industry to new heights

Spain's aerospace and air transport industry is enjoying a new optimism. Huge reorganisation and expansion in recent years, including the liberalisation of the country's internal air transport system, has led to greater competition and increased demand. In addition, the European Union's Open Skies policy has also helped transform the country's air transport fortunes.

Confidence in Spain was highlighted by the decision by Airbus Military last year to bring the final assembly line of the A400M transport to the Andalusian capital, Seville. Andalusia is one example of how the regions have influenced Spain's wider aerospace industry.

It includes Aeropolis, Europe's largest aeronautical technology park, and the local authorities have made more than c100 million ($135 million) of financial aid available to the aerospace industry, as well as reached agreements with local universities to encourage professional education and research and development.

Spain's other leading aerospace region is the Basque country. Companies, financiers and politicians have created an industry in little more than a decade. Engineering firm Sener has developed its own turbine technology and brought together Spanish state holding company INI/SEPI and Rolls-Royce to create ITP to participate in Eurojet, the consortium building the Eurofighter Typhoon EJ200 engine.

Away from the regions, Madrid is Spain's other major player. Firms such as EADS Casa, Indra and Sener all operate from the capital. Boeing also has a presence in Madrid, having opened a new R&D centre in 2002. Boeing opened an R&D centre in the Catalan capital Barcelona in the same year.

The restructuring of Spain's aerospace industry has led to companies teaming up with other players on a national, European and global level. Spanish companies are partners in Airbus, Arianespace, the Eurofighter consortium and EADS. The latter's Spanish arm, EADS Casa, although employing only 7,000 of EADS's total workforce of 109,000, is fast becoming a major player following a string of recent deals.

In May 2003 EADS Casa signed a c20 billion order for 180 A400Ms - a project that will directly employ between 1,000 and 1,200 people within EADS in Spain and create 10,000 Spanish jobs indirectly. This year EADS Casa secured an $87.4 million deal with Lockheed Martin for two CN-235 maritime surveillance aircraft. It was also selected by the Australian air force for a contract to supply a fleet of five Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports to replace Boeing 707 tankers.

On the commercial aviation side, huge expansions at Madrid and Barcelona airports will see 2005 passenger levels double those of 2002. Next year Madrid's Barajas airport capacity will be 70 million, while Barcelona's will peak at 40 million.

Despite being one of the few airlines which managed to stay profitable after the 11 September terrorist attacks, Spain's flagship airline Iberia expects a challenge to its dominance by low-cost airlines sniffing around for a slice of what is a lucrative cake.

The increasingly busy Spanish skies are set to be more competitive than ever.


40.3 million


Castilian Spanish is widely spoken and is Spain's most common spoken language. Catalan, Galician and Basque are also official languages.

Major cities:

Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Bilbao, Valencia.


g885.5 billion

GDP capita per head:








jobs in Spain are open to all European Union citizens.




Source: Flight International