Since the end of March 2022, an AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) has announced the banning of single-engine private jets from Barcelona airport. The main reason for this is the excessive delays in the event of unforeseen circumstances and for interventions on these business jets. Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat International Airport has therefore closed its doors to all these types of business aircraft. However, this affects the business aviation sector as well as airlines with a fleet of single-engine turboprops.
The main reason for this ban is the response time
As a reminder, single-engine private jets are generally small aircraft with only a propeller engine. Compared to all other private jets which have at least two engines. These single-engine aircraft operating in business aviation are mainly the Pilatus PC-12, the TBM 850, but also the Diamond DA50 or the Piper M600.
So why can’t these aircraft, which are certified and can operate for public transport, and therefore for business aviation, access Barcelona airport anymore?
One of the main reasons is the poor handling of incidents involving these private single-engine jets. For example, a Pilatus PC-12 belonging to the airline Jetfly had a technical problem on a taxiway at Barcelona airport. The incident was not serious, but parts had to be changed. As these were not immediately available, the aircraft had to be parked at the airport for three days. For an incident of this type, the repair should not have taken more than an hour. Nevertheless, for the airport manager this is an unacceptable situation.
Furthermore, Barcelona is the second most important airport in Spain (after Madrid airport). It is the main and mainstay for commercial aviation. Business aviation represents only a small part of the traffic. In fact, 310,000 movements are recorded each year at Barcelona airport. Of this figure, only 2,800 movements are operated by business aviation. Business aviation is definitely not the priority of Barcelona Airport. However, for those in the industry, this is quite impactful.
Like many airports, Barcelona is anti-business aviation. A single-engine turboprop takes the slot of a commercial aircraft which generates more revenue. So business aviation is less interesting for these large hubs.
Says Cédric Lescop, President of Jetfly, an airline specialising in business aviation.
The impact of this ban on business aviation
We have seen that 2,800 movements were operated by business aviation at the Spanish international airport. Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that some single turboprop aircraft such as the Pilatus PC-12 and TBM 50 are very popular and used in business aviation. Some have even made a business of it. This is the case of the business aviation company Jetfly, which has put 40 Pilatus PC-12 private jets in its fleet. Unfortunately for this operator, connections to the cosmopolitan Spanish capital will no longer be possible. Although the impact on the airline’s business is not major, it still represents some 50 movements per year.
In addition, other players in the world of on-demand aviation are affected. The manufacturers of single-engine turboprop aircraft (Pilatus, Piper, Daher, etc.), GAMA (an association of aircraft manufacturers) and the IAOPA (an association of pilots and aircraft owners) have all expressed their dissatisfaction. They “are deeply concerned about this ban on access to one of Europe’s main airports and, consequently, to the leading business and tourist destination in the city and region of Barcelona“. Quote from the joint letter they wrote to the Barcelona airport manager.
Therefore, unless this restriction is lifted, business aviation will still be able to access this Spanish airport, but with other private jets and business aircraft.