Following its closure for various hours on Sunday, during which 700 flights were cancelled, Barcelona’s El Prat airport is now operating normally (read article in Catalan here, Avui). According to the director of the airport, Fernando Echegaray, the airport is working at full capacity, although flights to countries that still have a full or partial no-fly zone in effect in the north of Europe will be cancelled, with some 200 flights expected to be affected. Echegaray also said that Barcelona is becoming a hub into Europe for many international airlines with flights landing here from around the world rather than their scheduled destination, so that passengers can continue their journey overland. Meanwhile, the Transport Commissioner for the European Union, Slim Kallas, said he hoped that half the flights scheduled for today in European airspace will be able to take off and said that the current situation (which has seen 63,000 flights cancelled since last Thursday) is not sustainable: “We can’t just wait for the ash cloud to simply disappear,” said Kallas. The transport ministers from each of the EU countries are due to hold a video-conference meeting today to discuss what measures to take to deal with the continuing crisis.
FC Barcelona team has been forced to travel by coach to Milan where they face Inter in the semi-finals of the Champions League tomorrow evening (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The closure yesterday of Barcelona’s El Prat airport as well as the closure of the Milan airport due to the cloud of volcanic ash located above Europe, meant that alternative travel plans had to be found for the team to get to Italy in time to adequately prepare for the confrontation. The team spent the night in Cannes and will continue their journey to the northern Italian city this morning. However, as Barcelona’s airport has now re-opened, there is the possibility that the thousands of fans hoping to travel to the match will be able to fly directly to Milan, rather than have to follow in the footsteps of their team.
Immigration to Barcelona has fallen for the first time in a decade (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Following 10 years of dramatic growth in the number of foreigners living in the Catalan capital, that trend has now slightly reversed with a decrease of 3.5 percent in the number of foreign residents in the city. The latest statistics show that of the 1.61 million people living here, some 17.6 percent are foreigners; there are 4,500 less foreigners registered here (empadronat) than in 2009. In addition, the tendency is for foreigners to be living in all different areas of Barcelona, rather than in just a few districts, a trend that is thought to help with their adaptation to and integration in local life; however, despite this, it is in the Ciutat Vella that the highest proportion of immigrants tends to reside, with 40.5 percent living there as of January 1st of this year. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of foreigners registered as living in the city jumped from 53,428 to 294,918 (there was a slight fall in 2007, when a change in the census law created a ‘false decrease’ when those whose registration had expired out were removed from the official numbers).
Also in the news: Spanish opposition leader refuses to support magistrate changes on the Constitutional Court saying that this way the group can reach a decision sooner rather than later (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Partido Popular senator implicated in corruption case resigns his seat (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Latest section of new metro line nine opens to bring Barcelona and Badalona closer together (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).