December 2017 - Another, further, different airline......
Swiftair this time, another company dreaming of operating flights from La Seu to Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt, London and so on. They even have 2 aircraft that can start immediately, one of 50 seats and one of 60. The problem though remains with the GPS system and any hope that Madrid would front up with funding are long dashed by the independence dream of their Catalan neighbours. The official line from Spain though is that they have not the necessary safety guarantees for operating the GPS system in limited visibility, not that that is going to get resolved since they cannot remove the mountains nor change the weather. So the saga drags on with no apparent resolution. Air taxis and private planes can operate but realistically there can't be agreat deal of demand ?
Also an intersting snippit from one website "Notes: Closest airport to Andorra, the mountain country which has no airports"
22nd July 2016 Time for an Airport update at La Seu.
A 45% increase in operations to 2000 takeoffs and landings compared to 2015. That is the proud announcement, sadly none of these are connercial. They are still waiting for the GPS system and other systems that allow the airport to operate in limited visibility. This is a stumbling block for commercial flights to say the least, but it has not stopped Nielson,the large UK tour operator announcing that it intends to fly ski charters from the UK to La Seu this coming season. Whether or not that materialises remains to be seen. Viatges Reina that last year ran the first summer scheduled service ( well. four flights in all)but is not operating this year despite insisting that last year's occupancy rate was a success ! Nothing further either on Andorra Airlines, Air Pyrenees, Air Andorra and all of the other transient ideas, one day I can write some good news I hope.
10th May 2016 - The usual tedious, repetetive update on the airport !!
http://www.aeroportandorralaseu.cat/en/ is a complete mess, and then the airline that promised to start by April: http://www.andorraairlines.com/en/sala-de-prensa/ the last press release was 2nd February 2016. You can even search for scheduled flights in skyscanner here http://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/ad/airlines-that-fly-to-andorra.html?locale=en-GB but you won't get very far. I think it may just be time to put this airport to rest after all of this will anyone have any confidence in the safety equipment, baggage handling, coffee machines? "R.I.P."
3rd February 2016 Andorra Airlines and scheduled flights from April 2016 but no Government endorsement.
I am not sure who or what Andorra Airlines are, Air Andorra came and went and now Andorra Airlines is promising scheduled flights from La Seu Airport starting in April. That is providing the GPS system ( ILS) is up and running. Interestingly they are scheduling flights to Madrid, Lisbon, Paris and even London once the problems surrounding the Schengen entry point is resolved with Immigration and Customs. The airline states that it is not intending to be a low cost airline, nor is the service to match a large airline such as Emirates, so somewhere in between with the lowest price for a single set at 102 euros and the most expensive will be London at 264 euros for a single. The company is looking at 24,000 passengers a year in 500 operations of their fleet of ATR42 and ATR72 aircraft with a seating capacity of 40 to 70 passengers with an investment of 45 to 60 million euros. One of the founders of the airline Soriano though is one of those 45 persons pending charges for fraud and corruption in the high profile Mercuri affair in which several mayors and public officers in Sabadell ( Spain, not the bank) allegedly decided to act rather dishonestly. The company has rigorously stated that this will not affect the objectives nor the reputation of the company. Yesterday Soriano presented the new airline to Andorran public and the press in the Congress centre, sadly no Government Minister or Official attended, an official spokesman stated that Government endorsement was not prudent in the light of the serious charges against Soriano in Spain. Why couldn't this fledgling airline be fronted by one of the other founders, or why not just call it BPA, Banca Privada Airlines? Cynicism apart, we sincerely hope that commercial flights are very soon a reality.
20th December 2015 - A380 Airbuses...soon...
The proposed airport project is getting really tedious now. The new urban plan for La Seu forecasts an annual 15,000 flight operations of 80 metre wingspan aircraft which will mean between 140,000 and 200,000 punters per year. The hangar capacity, currently 5, is forecast to increase to 14 within the plan but the runway extension to 1387 metres as in the urban plan of 2009 and the extension to 1500 metres as in 2011 has been shelved: The runway currently is 1287 metres long. Just looking though at what these projections entail, 15,000 operations per year even if we accept that an operation is both a take-off and landing means that each day the airport is forecast to have 40 or more flights. What is more worrying is that the 80 metre wingspan exceeds the wingspan of an A380 by 0.2 metres hence the reference in the title. Unfortunately the minimum runway requirement for an A380 is around 3,000 metres and with the altitude of La Seu airport being 802 metres, we would be looking at an airport runway extension to probably the first tee at Aravell golf course. Whether or not all this nonsense is a timely release around Spanish elections time it is school boy material, come on guys just open the ?>@@@y airport !!
12th December 2015 - Another blow for La Seu Aiport.
The airport has been dealt another significant blow in being caught up now in Catalunya/Spain politics, specifically there is a stalemate on funding from Madrid, certainly before the Spanish Elections to be held on 20th December. Once again the funding for the GPS proximity system ( pointed out by one reader that maybe it should be referred to as an Instrument Landing System ( ILS)) is a sticking point in that Madrid now is unwilling to finance that with the management of the airport 100% under the control of the Generalitat ( of Catalunya). The recent referendum for independence has not endeared Madrid to rush to help. That then really dashes any commercial ski packages as was being planned as without this navigation system it cannot operate in winter (and should really be in place for any commercial flights). Regina Viatges that last year arranged some charter flights from Madrid, La Seu and Palma may again be interested in that this year with a possibility for Setmana Santa, although that is going to depend on this wretched navigation system that for some reason no-one had thought about at the planning stage ( as if they didn't have time !!) - NUFF SED !!
15th September 2015 - New Air Taxi service planned.
A new all Andorran company offering air taxi services is being formed. The new company called " El Teu Soci Aeri " will operate 8 seater aircraft with a range of 3,000 km and be based at La Seu Airport. Very soon they expect to have a website up and running with an online booking service. This is good for Andorra, we wish them all the best and look forward to pricing and booking information. As yet there has been no start date announced.
11th September 2015 - Things moving in the right direction now...
Madrid has agreed to foot the 100,000 euro bill for GPS equipment that assists aircraft in bad weather which is a requirement for winter flights (see the article below). In a meeting yesterday with the Spanish Secretary General for Transport it was agreed that this should be able to be completed before this winter. That really then does offer opportunities for commercial flights. Also very importantly the Spanish looked favourably at flights from outside Schengen area such as London where Immigration and Customs would be required to meet and greet stating that this would not be a problem in their eyes. Fingers crossed !
3rd September 2015 - Post Summer update.
The weekly packages to Palma and Madrid during August turned out to be a flop for Viatges Regina with 30% capacity undermining hopes of a profitable charter that required a minimum of 50% capacity. Originally the same company was wanting to venture into the winter ski season with chartered flights but they now say in the absence of a GPS system at the airport to assist in adverse weather conditions (Some-one will have to front up with the estimated cost of 100,000 euros) this will not be possible. It seems strange that up to now no-one had considered that without a GPS system that the airport would not be able to operate in the winter? Yesterday during a meeting with Andorran and French officials to improve the dreaded road from Pas de la Casa to France it was mentioned that the French may be interested in helping to run La Seu Airport. Seems they are beginning to clutch at straws but with no commercial flights on the horizon, why not? As far as Air Andorra is concerned there has been no update since January 2015, also with no sign of their one aircraft on the Madrid - Girona route I can only assume that the parking bill has drained the coffers?
23rd June 2015 - Am trying to stay with the facts but my cynicism won't let me.
It is now 2 months since Air Andorra delivered its 2 month deadline to whoever manages the airport, the only airport with a runway made of fudge where the last plane spotter is now on an intravenous drip. Don't get me wrong we all want this to work and we will hopefully be proven right when the packages in the article from 20th May below are closed due to overbooking. Somebody the other day mentioned that somebody had heard of a rumour of flights from La Seu this summer but could not find any information: Mind you a week in Magaluf "all inclusive" with balcony jumping might just not appeal to an Andorran family. Air Andorra did mention in January that it was starting the cursed route from Girona to Madrid ( see below) while waiting for the paint to dry at La Seu but on a search of flights I can only find KLM on that route at 2,800 euros via Amsterdam on a 11.15 hour flight. Any reader who has managed to spot an Air Andorra aircraft other than in a museum please do let me know. For the summer packages I am actually now more optimistic since I started writing this article as I have found that our local minibus service Novatel seem to have become partners. I do have faith in Novatel it is one of Andorra's success stories, so I will end with some happy advertising for these packages: Summer sale now on...
20th May 2015 - La Seu Airport to offer weekly packages over this summer.
Although a long throw from the start of scheduled services which now once again seem a distant dream, one tour operator has decided to test the water this summer with weekly packages from La Seu ( Now named "Andorra-Pirineus") to Palma Majorca, and to Madrid. There will be 5 departure dates, 18th and 25th July, and 1st, 8th and 15th August with the following timetable on those dates:
10.00 Dep Madrid arr La Seu 11.30.
12.30 Dep La Seu arr Palma Majorca 13.40
14.25 Dep Palma Majorca arr La Seu 15.40
16.30 Dep La Seu arr Madrid 1800.
The packages for one week with flight included (The article for some reason says FIVE days in Madrid?) is 925 euros for Madrid and from 480 to 860 euros for Palma. In truly local style there is no link or information to any booking centre, no info on type of accommodation, transfers, parking charges, but I have tracked down this promotion for Palma ( though nothing on Madrid yet). Please click on thumbnail above to enlarge.
23rd April 2015 - Deadline given to La Seu Airport Management to get their act together.
Andorra Air has effectively given an ultimatum to La Seu Airport to resolve matters within 2 months or they will pull out unconditionally from any commercial flights there. The problem appears to be that a Spanish company that bidded in good faith for the emergency and essential services contract for the airport were horrified to discover that the contract had already been awarded to someone's mate there. This company has made an official complaint with the Courts and this is effectively blocking the final thumbs up for commercial flights ( Private and Air Taxis still occasionally use the airport). For the history of this saga please scroll down, but sadly Air Andorra is the only surviving and patient enough contender for operating regular services initially to and from Barcelona.
Following the article below dated 13th March 2014, Andair, that airline that was formed with Andorran partners who were soon sent packing, has announced that its inaugural flight will be in November 2014. Thats the good news, the bad news is that it will be between Barcelona and Murcia. Apparently we are all still waiting for the terminal to be completed at La Seu and of course the CAA blessing. Ho hum...another summer gone. While we are waiting, here is an aerial photo of the airport.
Air Andorra is due to start operations this summer from La Seu Airport, minus the former Andorran shareholders with whom the Spanish side fell out of bed. A spokesman said that they will offer day and overnight packages from Barcelona for shopping and visiting Andorra. Also an agreement has been reached with 5 Russian airlines for a direct transfer from Terminal 2 at Barcelona. The price of a one way ticket is set to be €75 for the 25 minute flight and they would like to operate 5 return flights daily from La Seu. They are aiming to attract 120,000 passengers in the first year of operation with eyes on other destinations including Toulouse, Lisbon, Madrid, Majorca, Ibiza and others. The increase in share capital will enable the company to buy a 46 seater aircraft, a twin turbo ATR-42 320 to cover the 5 daily return flights (I presume another one or two would be good for down-time and mechanical problems). Let's hope this now goes ahead smoothly and we wish them all the best.
Hot on the heels of the farcical historical attempts to open the local airport at La Seu and now that that this seems finally solved with an an opening in the summer of 2014, it may now open without an airline. It seems that there is severe disagreement between the Spanish shareholders and Andorran shareholders of the new airline Andair on how to operate the airline. So much so that decisions are allegedly being taken without consulting their Andorran counterparts. What I cannot ascertain is where the experience of actually operating an airline is in all this. I can only rationalise that this cannot be coming from this side of the border, if indeed such vital input even exists within the company. Suffice to say that the Spanish business projection is for 60% occupation and a 12% operating profit ( A single flight from La Seu to BCN will cost 75 euros) and the Andorran contingent business projection is for 100,000 passengers/visitors to be brought to Andorra in the first year of operation: Without any costings for this influx of 100,000 maybe the Spanish have a point ? Perhaps with an operating loss of one euro per passenger this may decimate the share capital of 100,000 euros in the first year, it would appear that the shareholders don't seem too committed with the amount of upfront capital invested ? Have I missed something?
Andair is the Company at the forefront of readiness for the final opening of La Seu Airport due to receive its CAA license in the summer of 2014. A spokesman for Andair has indicated that the company will be formed and ready for operations by April next year.
Andair will operate a fleet of Brazilian made Embraer 120 regional turboprops with a seating capacity of 27 – 30 seats. The airline intends to offer over a hundred weekly low cost flights, with the star destination of Barcelona with 73 weekly flights followed by Palma de Mallorca with 5 flights, Madrid with 4 and 3 flights a week between Toulouse, Lisbon or Oporto.
If all goes according to plan this should benefit Andorra and I am sure everyone wishes this new venture all of the very best.
13th September 2013. La Seu airport finally taking off.
Announced today, the million euro investment needed to bring La Seu airport up to speed will be paid by the Catalunya Government and Andorra will only play a role in the management. This stumbling block cleared means that the target date for receiving commercial flights is the summer of 2014. They expect the airport to be quite active and the authorities noted that there have been 7,000 private flights in and out over the past 4 years. Andair seems to be the front runner, but international flights, particularly ex-Schengen offer additional hurdles such as customs and Immigration, let's see.