The director of the Alicante-Elche airport, Laura Navarro, has said that the facility will not reach 15 million passengers, the number handled in 2019, until 2022 or 2023 after the “disruption” that has been caused by the coronavirus. “It is a period of great uncertainty,” she said, when speaking to the media during the visit of Community President, Ximo Puig.

Navarro said that the airlines are “beginning to take to the air in July”, but they will most certainly be nowhere near to their capacity”. “It is clear that we are not going to recover the 15 million throughput of passengers until 2022 or 2023; but the important thing is to start working again as we strive for those days, to recover and start to move little by little, but within the stipulations placed on us by health and security,” she said.

In 2019, the airport broke its record twice: in November when it reached 14 million and then on December 20 when it reached 15 million passengers, which made it the fifth largest airport in Spain, in terms of passenger numbers.

During the visit Ximo Puig said that “it is not necessary to have gone to Cambridge or Oxford make those predictions.” “This year is going to be a bad year,” he said. From the Generalitat what we aim for is that “as quickly as possible” the airport is once again able to “accommodate all the flights that can provide it with some life”. However, Puig also said that it is “logical that reactivation is not going to happen all at once,” adding that July and August “do not have to be completely bad.” “Depending on the virus disappearing from our lives, reactivation will become a reality, the best asset we have at the moment is health and security, “he said.

Cautious about opening borders

Puig told the press that he is “extremely cautious” when opening borders for the arrival of European tourists and has called for the establishment “as quickly as possible” of a European environment that allows mobility after studying the pilot project that will take 6,000 German tourists to the Balearic Islands. In this regard, he commented that the Valencian Community has requested that something similar can also be achieved “with other countries”.

However, the epidemiological circumstances of the British market, the main supporter of the Costa Blanca, “is not the same” as the German one.  “We hope that as quickly as possible, a European normality can exist because it will guarantee safe mobility.”

Puig has described the initiative of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, as “very positive”.