The President of the Government of Aragon, Javier Lambán, has requested support from the Emirati sovereign wealth funds at the headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to carry out the strategic expansion of Zaragoza airport with public-private collaboration that will allow it to continue to grow and provide synergies to already consolidated projects such as the Logistics Platform or the Maritime Terminal.
In this initiative, Lambán stresses the need to create a free trade zone that will contribute to consolidate Zaragoza airport as a logistics hub, allowing imports and re-exports without customs clearance, providing important international support. The representatives of the sovereign wealth fund have received the initiative satisfactorily and will visit the Logistics Platform and Zaragoza Airport before the summer.
President Lambán is also looking for financial collaborators to be able to build a second station for the AVE high speed train at the airport, an initiative that Aragón has been considering for many years, so that this expansion would allow a direct connection with Zaragoza airport and would facilitate the expansion of the area of influence of the city of Zaragoza to become a communications hub for passenger traffic in the Ebro Valley and could become a hub for charter flights in northeast Spain, in addition to increasing the frequency of regular flights to third countries.
Lambán indicated that the model to follow could be Frankfurt, which is not the largest German city, but is nevertheless the most frequent hub in Europe in terms of passenger and freight traffic. The president pointed out that, together with the Chamber of Commerce, they are working on an initiative to boost passenger traffic as well as to implement new national and international air routes.
The Aragonese president has indicated that the capacity of Zaragoza airport is beyond doubt to boost the Aragonese economy. In addition, there are now several factors such as the new PLAZA expansion and the constant growth of Aragonese exports. It must be taken into account that Zaragoza airport is already the second largest cargo airport in Spain and its growth is consolidating day by day.
Lambán thanked the efforts made by the Spanish Ambassador, Íñigo de Palacio, which, “condensed in two days, will be very useful for us, such as meeting today with a sovereign wealth fund, thanks to his intermediation”. The intervention of the President of Aragon and the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Manuel Teruel, have managed to arouse the interest on the possibilities of present and future “splendid” that are guessed to the Community despite the current turbulences, explained Lambán. “We have talked about the strategic sectors of the economy, focusing on logistics because they are very interested in the position and potential of Aragon. The Aragonese delegation has exposed what will be the next qualitative leap that the Community wants to take to strengthen the logistics position as is the strengthening and expansion of Zaragoza airport, the second in load already. We want it to be a free zone, to increase its passenger transport capacity, for which it is necessary to make some management in railway matters. We have received the pleasant surprise that, as a sign of your interest, we have arranged a visit to Aragon in the next few weeks to make it concrete and to show you in situ that everything we have told you today proves that Aragon is a community with a great future.
The Ambassador of Spain, Íñigo Palacio, considers that it is a magnificent opportunity to project the possibilities offered by the region and believes that it is very important that important personalities of Spanish politics attend “so that they know us better in the country” to generate contacts and agendas of a bilateral nature so that when the Expo is over, work can continue to develop those interests raised in bilateral relations.
For his part, the president of the Council of Chambers of Commerce, Manuel Teruel, hopes to capture the interest of the sovereign wealth fund to speed up the investment needed to promote Zaragoza airport, which, in his opinion, would be slower with public investment alone. In his opinion, a project of this type can take ten years if it is executed solely with public capital, while public-private collaboration could facilitate solid projects in just a year and a half.
Aragon is an exporting community and is therefore affected by all the turbulences such as the present ones derived from the war on European soil. But the Aragonese president is looking for new possibilities and the Arab Emirates is also a place Aragon is looking at. Today’s meetings will be followed by contacts tomorrow at the Dubai Expo, where Aragon Day will be celebrated in the Spanish pavilion and where several Aragonese businessmen will attend, promoting their lines of work.
According to Lambán, it is time for private capital and public authorities to associate with the same objectives. He spoke to the representatives of this fund about the climate of political and social peace, “which is of great interest to investors”. “Now the public opinion is anxious and worried about the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine. We, the rulers, must send signals of tranquility and convey that beyond the storm there are possibilities for the future”.
The president of the autonomous executive is aware that one of the greatest capacities of the Community of Aragon is in the food field, but he warns that in the future “we will be able to have other exporting potentialities such as the medical-pharmaceutical industry, the automobile industry and other strategic sectors that give us commercial possibilities with the whole world, including the Arab Emirates”.