New Terminal Opens at Madrid Airport

The sleek new $7.4- billion Terminal Four at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport is now open.  The new terminal, its satellite and two new runways will double the airport’s capacity, making Barajas the second largest airport in Europe and the world’s 10th largest. More than 54 million people came to Spain last year, making it the world’s second most popular destination and officials are forecasting more visitors will be entering through the new facility this year.

Designed by the acclaimed Richard Rogers Partnership in association with Antonio Lamela, the futuristic, state-of-the-art terminal is spacious, with natural light streaming through the undulating wing-like roof and glass walls. Rogers calls the large light-filled courtyards formed as the roofline dives down to the lower levels, “canyons.”  Dramatic glass and steel bridges span these canyons. The rippling bamboo-lined roof is supported by giant color-coded y-shaped steel beams. This new construction sets the stage for an array of innovative architectural wonders visitors can now see on their travels throughout Spain.

The new terminal comprises two buildings: the main terminal (T4) – from which most domestic and European country flights will operate – and its satellite (T4S) from which long-haul and some European flights will depart.  With more than five million square feet of space, the main terminal is equipped to handle 20 million passengers a year with 172 check-in desks and 38 gates. 

Designed to accommodate 15 million passengers a year, the satellite terminal covers more than three million square feet of floor space and has 26 gates, 16 of them providing double piers. Connecting the two buildings is an automated people mover (APM) that can carry 13,000 passengers an hour over the 1.3-mile distance. 

One of the facility’s many innovations is an automated baggage system electronically tracks 16,500 pieces of baggage an hour. Gates are color coded for easy reference with deep blue for north and deep red for farthest south. 

The new structures have the usual cafes, restaurants, retail outlets and something new – a Turkish bath and a 2400-square-foot- spa with hydro massage. A 12-lane road leads to the main terminal – Madrid is only eight miles away – and by May 2007 when the metro is completed, travelers will be able to make the journey to the city center in only 15 minutes.