Aviation, Barcelona, Catalonia, MBA, Personal, Projects, Thoughts

Opening day (the commissioning of Barcelona’s Airport Terminal 1)

Unbelievable we’re already here. After six years of dedicating an important part of my professional life to Barcelona’s Airport, today Terminal 1 is officially born. We’ll listen to the politicians’ speeches on how they made this possible. Maybe they did, but we worked all the way through. And this feeling, this pride, this sense of belonging will carry on with us the rest of our (professional) lives.

A huge, unique project can only be done with the commitment of a group of people. A group of people ready to withstand many pressures and surmount uncountable odds. Very diverse people, some very qualified, some able to star and shine without that qualification.

There are some pass-byers as well. The latter will be all in the official celebration today, even publicly displaying their self-attributed mothering. Isn’t it sad that people that have not appeared in the life of the project, and could have done things to support it, they come now for the medal?

We’ve learnt many things here. We’ve lived through many successes, and mistakes too. Fortunately! You can’t learn if you always do everything well. It would give you a false sense of security that would undermine your judgement.

But even if you make mistakes, you can’t learn unless you can reflect on past experiences. Unless you can evolve. That’s our duty today as nucleus of the project that has created the biggest Spanish airport terminal of all times, the biggest infrastructure that has been built in Barcelona for the last decades. We must make this exercise and learn.

Nothing of this would have been possible without the engineers. People think of architects, but they only make a small part of the project: they don’t make things work. Specially star architects that have seldom appeared during the project and have been more of a nuisance than anything. Till now this was the realm of the engineers. It was our time. Not any longer. Now it’s turn for the airlines and for the people that maintain the airport to work. It’s time for the passengers, for Catalans, to make this terminal their own. This terminal will be the first, and last, thing that visitors to Barcelona, and Catalonia, will see. It’s for all of us.


Yes, that was yesterday. And I was there. And from the experience I can tell you that I felt that my commitment for this project for so many years had been worth it. I feel as I have participated in something big, something important for my country. And this, in itself, is a reward as well for me.


5 thoughts on “Opening day (the commissioning of Barcelona’s Airport Terminal 1)

  1. Olivier Jonard says:

    I have used this terminal several times in the last week, flying Luthansa from Frankfurt. The first time I was really impressed by its beauty, but the more I’m using it the more I realize how many flows it has. Why designing an airport with so many problems and impairements to the passengers?
    * the security check is completely stupid. Why are the tables with the platic trays 10 m away from the X-ray equipments? Why?? It is so difficult in a hundreds of millions project to place the tables right to the x-ray equipment so that passengers do not have to carry their trays? And you have mopre than one trays? How do you carry them?
    * not enough seats at the ghates, by far. I counted yesterday at Gate 28, with around 200 passengers waiting : 36 seats. Beautiful.
    * why are the shops righ on the way from the gates to the exit? To force all passengers to walk 50 more meters for nothing? Is it a airport or a shopping center??
    * extremely difficult to find the toilets, badly indicated.
    Most of these problems can be solved… it is not too late to make a good job.

    • As I have some first hand information, let me answer:
      * I agree with the first one, the way they make the security check really annoys me, but that’s not a flaw on design but that they choose to manage it this way for security reasons. Obviously, moving tables is not a problem, but they do want you to move the trays. The security is never intended to be passenger friendly, and that’s a mistake. A mistake, by the way, by the security forces, which are the ones responsible for that “service”. Not the airport. Still we would gain a lot of efficiency if the people that run the security thought of the needs of their customers instead of how to do their job with the least effort.
      * Gate 28 has a bar-restaurant nearby, thus has less chairs but nothing prevents you from sitting beside or in front (10 meters away). What usually happens is that passengers like to stand and queue before the opening of the gate. In that case it’s better to have some free space. In any case I’ve never seen the chairs full and, for me, that means there’s plenty of.
      * I agree on that one: the shops right on the way. They weren’t there on the design but, again, those shops in the way make a lot of revenue. It’s a business after all. Although I don’t like that solution, it only forces you to walk for an additional 20 meters. Hardly noticed. By the way, you could walk through the shop if you wanted to.
      * I have to disagree on that one: there are plenty of toilets and they are perfectly indicated with the international signs. If you were on gate 28 I recall you have some very close by, and it’s very hard to miss them 🙂

      You know, every design has always some flaws from some point of view, as there are many stakeholders there interested in different things. Open spaces versus shops in prime locations (in Manchester’s Airport you necessarily have to walk through the shop as the entrance to the airside is a giant shop, so you get surrounded by products but, anyway, you can just walk by, no harm done), quick access versus double checking the security, sitting spaces versus walking areas, everything is a dilemma, a trade-off and decisions have to be made.

      And of course I agree with you that some things need to be improved. Not the toilets though! Compare them with most of Europe’s airports and they are far better, easier to find, and cleaner too! hahaha

      Best regards and thanks for the comment 🙂 As I’m flying to Frankfurt on monday I’ll probably be at the same gate and I’ll check everything again 😉 take care

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