Throwaway el Prat

Throwaway el Prat

Josep Huguet
I have heard optimistic reports updates in the press about a proposed merger of British Airways/Iberia with Vueling. They are based on the fact that parent company IAG, now with a controlling share in el Prat, depends on a conglomerate whereas British and not directly the Spanish airline. Call me distrustful, but I still see the long hand of Bernabeu balcony lobbyists in all this.

We are helping the state with mostly Catalan money to rescue Bankia, that Esperanza Aguirre used to initially save Iberia. The company has a collusion of interests - including a pending complaint to the European Monopolies Commission - with Spanish airport management company AENA. This state-owned body governs the network of Spanish airports and used surplus funds from Barcelona, Palma and Las Palmas to finance the other, non-viable airports. Furthermore AENA with full state support, blocked plans to make el Prat Spain’s intercontinental travel hub, instead promoting Barajas airport in Madrid.

Iberia/AENA strategy is to convert El Prat into a low-cost airport. Evidence of this can be seen in the withdrawal of Iberia, with facilities given over instead to companies such as Ryanair - to the detriment of Reus and Girona, and forget the Spanair debacle once and for all. Bearing this in mind, and remembering that low-cost Vueling will remain an independent part of IAG, it is possible to imagine a systematic ostracism of Catalunya/Barcelona/el Prat.

But it is still important that the ostracized company continues to return a profit. Catalunya is a leader in state investigation/development, import/export and tourism. With its HQ in Barcelona, Vueling has increased flights volume there and may yet lift el Prat beyond the role of a secondary provincial hub.

And now, the Bernabeu/Iberia/AENA balcony with Catalan resources in place at Bankia, will follow through with their Vueling takeover bid - a moment when Iberia may be inflating another bubble, as with real estate. The airline plans to lay off a fourth of its workforce (4000 employees) and is on the verge of bankruptcy despite continued state funding.

Is all this not economic war between Madrid against Catalonia? Did someone miss the sovereign block growth among the electorate, which can be in no way attributed to a Machiavellian decision by a convergent national leadership, but in reverse?

The same day that I am publishing this article, I have seen in the 50 US states vote freely in presidential elections and hundreds of referendums on marijuana, gay marriage, language, capital punishment, taxes etc. I do not think that the Catalans are much different from the inhabitants of Kansas with Delaware, with a similar sense of grievance, also impossible to placate with loving overtures because they do things.