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The aircraft parking lot in Teruel

Teruel’s aircraft parking lot is the only airport in Spain exclusively dedicated to parking, maintenance and recycling of aircrafts. In recent months its capacity has been overwhelmed by the restriction on national and international flights imposed by Covid19 pandemic. Local and foreign airlines still have part of their fleets parked in the facilities of this complex, waiting for the total normalization of activities.

In fact, the Teruel International Industrial Airport began operations in 2013, located in the former military airfield spaces of Caudé. It was active during the Civil War and later served as firing range for the Spanish Air Force until 1994.

Teruel’s aircraft parking lot: history and essential conditions

To undertake this project the Government of Aragon and the City Council of Teruel formed a consortium in 2007 with contributions of 60% and 40% respectively. From the beginning, it was clear to the promoter that the structure in question was not going to be used for passenger traffic. On the contrary, it would function as an MRO –Maintenance and Repair Organization– and as such it managed to consolidate itself as the largest in Europe today.

Work began in 2009 and in 2011 the construction of the first hangar was completed. The airport itself was inaugurated on August 2013 with the arrival of a Boeing 747 from Air Cargo Germany.

PLATA (Plataforma Aeroportuaria de Teruel), the alternative name for the aircraft parking area in Aragon, occupies 340 hectares of land. In short, this site is 1,000 meters above sea level, making it the highest airport in Spain. In addition, the climate of the area is dry and semi-desert, but not dusty. This benefits the conservation of the aircraft and facilitates maintenance tasks. On the other hand, the geographical location of the airport is very strategic, as it has little air traffic. At the same time, it is relatively close to Toulouse, France, the most important aircraft manufacturing center in Europe and home to Airbus.

Characteristics that make PLATA the largest aircraft parking lot in Europe

Teruel Airport has a runway for takeoff and landing of almost three kilometers (2,825 m.), with an operational width of 45 m. and a total of 60 m. It also has authorization for night visual flight operations, thanks to facilities such as:

  • An airfield lighthouse.
  • A beaconing system at the head of the runway.
  • Obstacle beacons on electric towers near the airport platform.

On the other hand, PLATA has an airplane parking area with an extension of 120 hectares and a theoretical capacity for 250 aircraft. At present, work is being done to achieve this parking possibility and to exceed the actual limit of 130, currently reached. Apart from this, it has another parking area of 107,800 m2 with rigid pavement resistant to the action of fuel and fluids.

Two large hangars are fully operational on the airfield: the first one can accommodate a Boeing 747 type aircraft. Meanwhile, the other can accommodate an Airbus 320 or Boeing 737 type aircraft. Although there are also three hangars and an area for executive aviation and a parking lot for helicopters. Likewise, the complex has an area for recycling parts and another area for storing and refueling aircraft.

As for the operational areas, there is a terminal with a control tower, an operations and meteorology room, and technical and administrative areas. As it is logical it has other own facilities of these structures like: control of documentation, control of accesses and security, cafeteria, restrooms, etc.

Fees and services

On the other hand, PLATA rates for landing, airport transit services and parking are the cheapest in Spain. Among other basic ground handling services are available at the complex:

  • Compressed air, ASU with capacity up to B747 type aircraft.
  • Refuelling of fuel type JET A1 and AVGAS.

Maintenance and recycling works are carried out by concessionary companies.

Expansion works to complete the aircraft parking lot in Teruel

Despite the restrictions caused by the coronavirus, the administration of Teruel Airport continues to focus on expanding infrastructure and operations. Accordingly, the construction of the paint hangar and three small aircraft buildings is underway.

However, the execution of other significant works, among them, has also been approved:

  • A 2,000 m2 logistics warehouse that will have a bridge crane to move large parts, essential for major maintenance.
  • A 16,200 m2 hangar, 40 m high, sufficient to house two Airbus A380s, the one with the largest passenger capacity at present. Or proportionally, it could also receive three A340s or six A321s. As a result, Teruel airport will considerably increase its capacity for aircraft maintenance and conservation activities in the medium term. In this sense, this “super hangar” is expected to be operational by 2022.
  • As we said before, the extension of the parking area. This implies bringing it to its maximum capacity for parking aircraft of 250 or more units.

Likewise, these expansions will cost approximately 30 million euros and will employ close to 300 workers. Similarly, once the new areas are in operation, the number of stable jobs could increase from the current 250 to more than 400.

Other interesting facts about Teruel Airport

Recently the Teruel Airport Platform obtained authorization to manage passenger flights in aircraft with up to 19 seats. On the other hand, it is expected that by 2021 it will be granted the license to manage cargo flights. Without a doubt, the latter represents an extraordinary business opportunity, given the privileged location of Teruel, between Valencia and Zaragoza. This condition makes the airfield more attractive for cargo transport.

Moreover, PLATA‘s activity is not limited to maintenance, recycling and parking of large capacity aircraft. It is also a research and development center in various areas related to aeronautical activity. There is also a school for pilots and training flights.

As if this were not enough, the first test of the engine of the Arion space launcher line took place within its facilities in 2015. This project is carried out by the Spanish company PLD Space.

For all these reasons, Teruel Airport is going beyond its basic facet of aircraft parking, to ratify itself as a reference in the aeronautical industry.