March 24, 2020 / 10:08 AM / in 12 days

Most airport terminals in Madrid, Barcelona close as coronavirus hits

A municipal worker in protective gear disinfects a street during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Susana Vera

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish airport operator Aena said on Tuesday it would close most terminals at Madrid and Barcelona’s main airports after air traffic plummeted due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Aena will adjust the capacity of its airports to the actual operating needs,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Aena will close all terminals except terminal 4 at its Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas airport and will gradually transfer all traffic at Barcelona’s El Prat airport to terminal 1. It said it would also reduce opening hours at other regional airports in Spain.

Spain is the second hardest hit country in Europe by the virus, behind Italy, and its death toll has reached 2,182.

Aena said it would also adapt its infrastructure in the Balearic and Canary Islands, two regions that attract millions of tourists a year.

Air traffic to and from Spain, and within the country, has plummeted since the government imposed a state of emergency on March 14, restricting travel and tourism and establishing a broad lockdown in the country.

Aena, which is majority owned by the Spanish state, is considering delaying dividend payments to protect its cash flow, Expansion newspaper reported Tuesday.

Aena declined to comment.

Spanish Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos said late on Monday that air traffic in Aena’s airports had fallen by 82% since the state of emergency was enforced on March 14.

Reporting by Inti Landauro, Jessica Jones; Editing by Nathan Allen and Susan Fenton

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