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Airport Bilbao (Spain)

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Bilbao Airport

Bilboko aireportua  (Basque)
Aeropuerto de Bilbao  (Spanish)
Airport typePublic
LocationBilbao, Spain
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL42 m / 137 ft
Coordinates43°1804N 02°5438W / 43.30111°N 2.91056°W / 43.30111; -2.91056Coordinates: 43°1804N 02°5438W / 43.30111°N 2.91056°W / 43.30111; -2.91056
Location of the airport in the Basque Country
Direction Length Surface
m ft
10/28 2,000 6,562 Asphalt
12/30 2,600 8,530 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Passenger change 17-1810.0%
Aircraft Movements49,966
Movements change 17-186.3%
Cargo (t)1,216
Cargo change 17-18 37.8%
Sources: Passenger Traffic, AENA[1]
Spanish AIP, AENA[2][3]

Bilbao Airport (IATA: BIO, ICAO: LEBB) is a public airport located 9 km (5.6 mi) north[4] of Bilbao, in the municipality of Loiu, in Biscay. It is the largest airport in the Basque Country and northern Spain, with 5,469,453 passengers in 2018. It is famous for its new main terminal opened in 2000 designed by Santiago Calatrava.


After various aeronautic experiments in the province of Biscay, in October 1927 steps were taken by the Union of Public Works to establish an airport in Bilbao. A Provincial Board was created to study the possible location of the airport. It was not until 1936 that the General Aeronautics Management authorised the installation of an airport in Sondika. However, due to the site's many deficiencies, the airport was not considered of interest. Bilbao is surrounded by mountains and a flat valley without significant population had to be found.

The construction works commenced during the Civil War but during this time and until June 1937 the airport was only used as a base for military activities. In 1938, the second stage of the airport's development began. The council resumed procedures with the government to modify the primitive project of 1936 and the drafting of a new project was authorised and later approved by the General Management of Infrastructure.

In 1940, it was decided by common agreement with the local organisations affected to build a civilian airport in Sondika. The construction works progressed slowly and on 19 September 1948, the airport was at last opened to daytime traffic with the establishment of an air path to Madrid by Aviación y Comercio, SA. Two years later, the terminal, named Carlos Haya after the well-known pilot from Bilbao, began to give service. At this time, the airport had an asphalt runway, the 11/29 (measuring 1,440 by 45 m (4,724 by 148 ft)), another earth runway (measuring 1,500 by 150 m (4,921 by 492 ft)), a taxiway, a passenger terminal, a tower control, a radio beacon, a direction finder as well as police, post office, weather, health, fuel and telephone services. In 1955, a taxiway was built to link the runway with the parking stands and terminal. An apron measuring 124 by 60 m (407 by 197 ft), a hangar for the Royal Flying Club of Vizcaya and permanent facilities for Campsa were also built.

Between 1964 and 1965, an instrumental ILS landing system and a meteorological radio for storm detection were installed; the runway was extended to 2,000 m (6,562 ft) and the apron to 12,000 m2 (130,000 sq ft). In 1975, the runway was surfaced and its orientation became 10/28 due to the change in magnetic declination. In 1977, the parking stand was extended, a link road was built and an ILS system was instaled. The runway 12/30, measuring 2,600 m (8,530 ft) long, was opened the same year and the airport was classified as first category the following year. As a result of the population density of the area, approaching planes may have to fly over the extensive Derio cemetery.

During the eighties, the ILS landing system entered into service for runway 10/28; the communication centre, passenger terminal and parking facilities were enlarged; and a fire service building and cargo terminal were constructed.

On 19 February 1985, an Iberia flight from Madrid crashed into Mount Oiz, all passengers and crew died.[5]

In 1996, a new taxiway with two rapid exits and a new aircraft parking apron were built. The works required the removal of tons of soil poisoned with lindane residues. In May 1999, the new tower control was put into service, which allowed for a more centred vision of the airfield and at the same time facilitated airport operations. On 19 November 2000, a new terminal area was opened in the north zone, consisting of a new terminal building, with a surface area of 32,000 m2 (340,000 sq ft), a car park with 3,000 parking spaces measuring 95,000 m2 (1,020,000 sq ft) and a north apron for aircraft parking to serve the new terminal area.

In February 2009 plans were announced to expand the terminal building, the facilities and the car parking so as to double the current capacity to 8 million passengers. The work was expected be finished in 2014 and cost 114 million but in 2010 the Spanish Government announced the project would be delayed by at least 5 years due to spending cuts and a decline in passenger numbers.[6]

Design of the passenger terminal

The terminal has a sleek design, with two symmetrical "wings" and a sharp tip at its center which is especially visible when approaching the terminal from the sides. This original design has granted the building the nickname of La Paloma ("The Dove").[7] White concrete and glass have been used. The interiors are open and luminous spaces, distributed in two floors, the upper one for departures (check-in counters and gates) and the lower for arrivals.

There has been some criticism of Santiago Calatrava's design by Aena, the Spanish airport authority, because it seems difficult to make further enlargements in the terminal's capacity because the design is too closed. In spite of this, modifications took place in 2005-2006 in the check-in area to provide enhanced shopping facilities for travellers, which almost doubled the retail space now being offered.

Users of the airport widely complained about its lack of an arrivals area, since once passengers cleared customs, they stepped directly outside, and there they were often exposed to the elements. The airport built a glass-walled shelter to remedy this problem.[7]


The airport has seen a constant increase in its traffic numbers, the old terminal was already saturated and obsolete in 1990, although it had been renewed only a few years earlier. At the present day Bilbao is the most important hub in northern Spain and the number of passengers using the new terminal continues to rise, especially after the increased tourist interest in the city since the opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

With the past increase of traffic, the terminal would have become saturated again in a year because it is designed to handle about 4.5 million passengers per year, in 2007 it went nearly to its maximum capacity. However, the global financial crisis of 2008 has reversed the situation as of early 2009, decreasing the number of passengers by 24% in January compared to previous year. In 2014 traffic is on the rise again and saw the recovery of passengers up to 5.4 million passengers by 2018.[8]

Airlines and destinations

Aegean Airlines Seasonal: Athens (begins 5 June 2020)[9]
Aer Lingus Dublin
Air Europa Lanzarote, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, TenerifeNorth
Seasonal: Alicante, Ibiza, Malaga, Menorca
Air France ParisCharles de Gaulle
British Airways LondonGatwick[10]
Brussels Airlines Brussels
Czech Airlines Seasonal: Prague[11]
easyJet Bristol, LondonStansted, Manchester, Nantes
Seasonal: Edinburgh, MilanMalpensa, ParisCharles de Gaulle
easyJet Switzerland Seasonal: Geneva
Eurowings Düsseldorf, Stuttgart
Iberia Madrid
Iberia Regional Alicante, Santiago de Compostela, Valencia, Vigo
Seasonal: Menorca
Israir Airlines Seasonal: Tel Aviv[12]
KLM Amsterdam
Level Seasonal: Vienna[13]
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Norwegian Air Shuttle Seasonal: OsloGardermoen, StockholmArlanda
Ryanair LondonSouthend
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon
Transavia Seasonal: Rotterdam/The Hague (begins 2 March 2020)[14]
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
Volotea A Coruña, Málaga, Porto, Seville, Venice, Vienna
Seasonal: Cagliari (begins 30 May 2020),[15] Ibiza, Lyon (begins 10 April 2020),[16] Malta, Menorca (begins 30 May 2020),[16] Murcia (begins 30 May 2020),[16] Naples, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca
Vueling[17] A Coruña, Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence, Fuerteventura, Granada, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Jerez de la Frontera, Lanzarote, Lisbon, LondonGatwick, Málaga, Menorca, MilanMalpensa, Palma de Mallorca, ParisOrly, Porto, RomeFiumicino, Seville, TenerifeNorth, Valencia
Seasonal: BerlinTegel


Bilbao Airport Passenger Totals 2000-2019 (millions)
Updated: 13 January 2018[18]
Passengers Change from previous year Aircraft movements Change from previous year Cargo (tonnes) Change from previous year
2000 2,556,373 45,506 4,038
2001 2,491,770 02.5% 44,166 03% 3,674 09,1%
2002 2,463,698 01.1% 39,832 09.9% 3,699 00.6%
2003 2,850,524 015.7% 44,009 010.4% 3,813 03.1%
2004 3.395,773 019.1% 50,361 014.4% 4,152 08.9%
2005 3,843,953 013.2% 56,285 011.8% 3,956 04.7%
2006 3,876,072 00.8% 58,574 04.1% 3,417 013.6%
2007 4,286,751 010.6% 63,076 07.7% 3,230 05.5%
2008 4,172,903 02.7% 61,682 02.2% 3,178 01.1%
2009 3,654,957 012.4% 54,148 012.2% 2,691 015.3%
2010 3,888,969 06.4% 54,119 00.1 2,547 05.4%
2011 4,045,613 04.0% 54,432 00.6% 2,633 03.4%
2012 4,171,092 03.1% 50,030 08.1% 2,663 01.1%
2013 3,800,789 08.9% 42,683 014.7% 2,536 04.8%
2014 4,015,352 05.6% 42,590 00.2% 2,855 012.6%
2015 4,277,430 06.5% 43,862 03% 2,872 00.6%
2016 4,588,265 07.3% 45,105 02.8% 2,974 03.6%
2017 4,973,712 08.4% 46,989 04.2% 1,956 034.2%
2018 5,469,453 010% 49,966 06.3% 1,216 037.8%
Source: Aena Statistics[1]
Top Carriers
Rank Carrier Passengers 2017 % Passenger %
Change 2016
1 Vueling 1,706,065 34.30 5.62
2 Lufthansa 504,549 10.14 6.50
3 Iberia 494,643 9.95 6.33
4 Air Europa 450,853 9.06 10.91
5 EasyJet 285,680 5.74 33.55
6 Norwegian Air Shuttle 205,670 4.14 170.18
7 KLM 181,947 3.66 25.18
8 Air France 179,098 3.60 0.16
9 British Airways 171,808 3.45 7.87
10 Air Nostrum 148,901 2.99 2.31
Source: Aena Statistics[1]
Busiest routes
Busiest routes from Bilbao Airport 2018
Rank City Passengers 2018 % Passenger %
Change 2018
1 Madrid, Spain 811,463 14.84 9.09
2 Barcelona, Spain 632,777 11.57 16.64
3 Munich, Germany 302.772 5.54 15.18
4 Seville, Spain 261,253 4.78 42.88
5 Frankfurt, Germany 233,046 4.26 3.95
6 Amsterdam, Netherlands 232,859 4.26 5.81
7 ParisCharles de Gaulle, France 231,407 4.23 8.72
8 Palma de Mallorca, Spain 226,278 4.14 24.21
9 Málaga, Spain 219,215 4.01 22.22
10 LondonHeathrow, United Kingdom 167,155 3.06 2.76
Source: Aena Statistics[1]

Public transport

Metro extension

There is a project to extend Metro Bilbao's Line 3 to the airport in the near future, but there is no official timetable yet.

Incidents and accidents

  • On 15 September 1975 British Airways flight NS552 operated by Trident 1E G-AVYD was written off at Bilbao while taking off. The aircraft came off the runway following the commanders decision to abort the take-off on a wet runway at or close to V1.
  • On 19 February 1985, Iberia Flight IB610 from Madrid crashed into Mount Oiz. All 148 passengers and crew on board were killed.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d AENA passenger statistics and aircraft movements
  2. ^ Spanish AIP (AENA) Archived 13 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ http://www.aena.es/es/aeropuerto-bilbao/presentacion.html
  4. ^ EAD Basic
  5. ^ The Associated Press (20 February 1985). "48 Are Killed As Spanish Jet Hits Mountain". New York Times. The New York Times Company.
  6. ^ García, Josu (19 November 2010). "La ampliación del aeropuerto de Bilbao se retrasa al menos 5 años". El Correo (in Spanish). Vocento. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b Daley, Suzanne (13 September 2013). "A Star Architect Leaves Some Clients Fuming". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  8. ^ "'La Paloma' pierde un 24% de pasajeros en el primer mes de un año «difícil»". Archived from the original on 1 August 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
  9. ^ https://el.about.aegeanair.com/media-center/deltia-typoy/2019/2020_afetiria-gia-perissotera-gia-tin-aegean/
  10. ^ "Summer 2019 schedule changes". British Airways. 22 August 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  11. ^ JL (24 November 2014). "CSA Czech Airlines Continues Europe Expansion in S15". Airline Route. UBM Live. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  12. ^ " ". Israel Airports Authority (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  13. ^ Liu, Jim (20 August 2019). "LEVEL Sep - Dec 2019 Vienna network adjustment". Routes Online. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  14. ^ https://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/nieuws/categorie/2/airlines/transavia-eerder-van-rotterdam-naar-edinburgh-en-bilbao
  15. ^ Liu, Jim. "Volotea S20 network additions as of 10OCT19". Routesonline. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  16. ^ a b c Liu, Jim (3 December 2019). "Volotea S20 new routes as of 29NOV19". Routesonline.
  17. ^ "Look on the map for our 125 vueling destinations". Vueling.com. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Aeropuerto de Bilbao - Presentación". Aena. Retrieved 17 September 2019.

External links

This article based on this article: Bilbao_Airportexternal Link from the free encyclopedia Wikipediaexternal Link and work with the GNU Free Documentation License. In Wikipedia is this list of the authorsexternal Link.