Spain's highly competitive aerospace sector, located primarily in Madrid, the Basque Country and Andalusia, is benefiting greatly from internationalization and offers many opportunities for foreign companies. However, Spain still lags behind the two leading countries in the European sector, France and Germany, where the proportion of airports per inhabitant is ten times greater than that of Spain. Because of this, efforts in Spain’s aerospace sector are being concentrated on improving Spain’s standing in the infrastructure sphere in order to keep up with its European competitors. Currently, the sector employs more than 34,000 people in Spain.
The largest local company, EADS-CASA, has a minority participation in the European consortium Airbus. The Spanish Government is trying to increase its participation to10 percent. In addition to EADS-CASA, there are two other dominant companies in Spain: Aernova, formerly GAMESA, a manufacturer of structural parts for aircraft, and ITP (Industria de Turbo Propulsores, S.A.), an aircraft engine producer.
Demand is increasing for products related to composite tape-laying machines and fiberplacement systems with computer numerical control. Aeronautical products in greatest demand include components for aeronautical software programming, avionics, ground support equipment, and extruded metal products and plastics.
Spain's aerospace sector is constantly growing, and shows greater potential due to increased competition in the Spanish air transport market and demand for new technology. Liberalization of Spain's internal air transport system has resulted in increased demand, creating opportunities for U.S. manufacturers and distributors. Demand for systems and components has increased substantially in recent years.
More companies are requesting airline licenses from civil aviation authorities than ever before. Companies entering the market in recent years include Vueling, and Clickair, a low-cost carrier created by Iberia, ACS and other partners. In 2008, Clickair and Vueling announced plans to merge. This has increased the total number of airplanes operating in Spain and created steady expansion of the spare-parts market. This trend is expected to continue as regional markets develop.
Marsans, a Spanish proprietary group that owns Aerolíneas Argentinas (recently expropriated by the Argentinian Government), and Air Comet, is augmenting growth of the total number of airplanes operating in Spain with the recent purchase of 73 aircrafts from Airbus. Of the 73 planes ordered, four are the new A380 craft, purchased for a total of USD 7 billion. This will bring the total Marsans fleet to 150 aircraft. As of February 2009, Marsans was negotiating with the Argentine government to take over a portion of their contract with Airbus, resulting in the Argentine government acquiring some of these new planes.
Currently, local Spanish manufacturers are unable to meet the production demands for parts and components, and are looking to the international market for help. Many Spanish sub-contractors are exploring the possibility of international agreements to meet increased demand, offering excellent export opportunities for U.S. companies. Caja Madrid after increasing their share in the airline Iberia through purchasing the shares in Iberia held by both BBVA and Logista is now the leading party and it would bring Caja Madrid’s total share in the company to around 23 percent, a number the company says it does not wish to exceed.
To decrease operating costs, some airlines are considering operational leases, opening opportunities for U.S. companies. This service market is expected to increase in the short term. However, U.S. aircraft manufacturers face stiff competition from European companies (small aircraft) and from Airbus.