Viva Alicante ….
Spain’s sixth biggest airport opened a new terminal in April 2011. Except that it’s not just a new terminal……. it’s effectively a new airport for Alicante. The Spanish tourist resort that is so popular with the Brits, Germans, and increasingly Russians as well, now has a gleaming new terminal, that not only dwarves the old ones, it has replaced them because they have been closed.The new building is six times as big as the original two terminals, and would not look out of place at London Heathrow or Paris Charles de Gaulle airports. The L-shaped structure has 26 departure gates and almost 100 check-in counters, double what was there before.
At a cost of €630 million, Spain’s airport operator AENA has pumped in a lot of money to create a prestige airport for the region. This is at odds with the fact that around 80% of traffic comes from low cost carriers who usually balk at the idea of fancy terminals because they mean expensive overheads.
From the passengers’ point of view, however, the terminal is a godsend after the cramped conditions endured over the years at T1 and T2 • especially in the peak summer months of August and September when close to 30% of annual traffic meant the airport was stretched at the seams.
The new terminal is a vast airy space of glass and natural light where capacity has been doubled from 10 million to 20 million passengers. Its glass curtain wall overlooks the aprons with views to the sea beyond the coastal high rises, and it raises the comfort factor at the airport considerably.
Shopping too is now a delight thanks to 20 shops spread over an 8,000 sqm area. The airport has opted for a walk-through duty free store called The Shop which 100% of passengers have to enter after security in order to get to their gates. This is the way more airports are building their main store as they try and increase shop penetration, but it is also useful for picking up items you might otherwise have forgotten.This 1,650 sqm store, operated by Aldeasa, is laid out so that perfumes/cosmetics and fashion/accessories are the first categories you will see on entry. There are almost 100 perfume brands in the beauty section and a large Lacoste open-plan area which sweeps around to the right where, unusually, tobacco products have a prominent position because they are so popular. Next comes an impressive liquor section at the corner of which is a promotional Bacardi bar where free mojitos are on the menu. The area also has a selection of good regional wines from suppliers such as Vicente Gandía Plá and Bodegas Murviedro. At the end of the store you will find local products and confectionery.Essentially the shop offers everything you would want to find in a traditional duty free shop, including some extras. The regional area for example is called Thinking Alicante and is designed to reflect the region with fixtures like domed roofs, columns and gondolas inspired by the Castle Square of Benidorm, one of the main tourist areas in Alicante.Thinking Alicante’s products include a great collection of hand-painted wooden fans from Abanicos Folgado, olive oils and vinegars from Torrevella Explotación Agrícola, turrón, a sweet local delicacy, plus fig bread, nougat, rice, olives, cheeses and sausages, as well as an excellent selection of more top-end wines from Valencia. Aldeasa is collaborating in various projects, to showcase regional suppliers and products which means that different local brands will always be available.
Once outside the main shop there is a long wall of fashion and accessories to the right and a central bank of stores dedicated to a mix of retail from books and news (Relay), confectionery (Sweet Shop), fine foods (Sibarium), gadgets and design (Superskunk), jewellery and accessories (Las Lilas), luggage and bags (Travel Mate), crystal (Swarovksi), music and games (Crystal Media) and children’s products and clothes (Tuc Tuc).
The fashion section features three key units: Your Fashion Store which has a mix of brands including Hugo Boss, Pepe Jeans, Polo Jeans and Armani; a giant 800 sqm space devoted to the creative Spanish fashion brand Desigual most of whose designs are a riot of colour and which is developing a growing following around the world; and El Corte Inglés the Spanish department store chain which has opened in an airport for the very first time selling fashion and footwear in one shop, and health and beauty in another. Its Gloria Ortiz boutique is notable for its collection of shoes, bags, scarves and costume jewellery.
The 230 sqm Express Shop, a cut-down version of the main duty free shop at the farthest departure gates, allows last-minute purchases and completes the departure offer. One final note is that the new terminal also has an arrivals shop in the baggage reclaim area in case you want to stock up at the start of your holiday.
Alicante airport fact file ..
- Passenger traffic 2010: 9.4 million
- Airlines: More than 30, of which the biggest (by number of routes) are Ryanair, Easyjet, Thomson Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Berlin, Norwegian Air Shuttle.
- Unusual fact: For a terminal that is overwhelmingly geared to low cost airlines there is a tapas bar called Aire from Michelin starred chef Quique Dacosta.