6 Jan, 2024 @ 09:35
1 min read

How Gibraltar airport remains an important military asset to the UK – complicating Spain’s demand to share the runway as part of a post-Brexit treaty

AS the Brexit treaty for Gibraltar falters over claims for joint use of its airport, a local enthusiast has pointed out that 58 military planes touched down there during 2023.

Regional Spanish newspaper Europa Sur pointed out that this continued presence of the RAF ‘highlights the difficulty of the shared use of the airport’.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares already said in an interview with El Pais on December 10 that the ‘airport has to be in the agreement’.

But some voices have indicated that it could be a problem because of its high UK military value

This point was highlighted by Europa Sur when it published the figures of the planes that have touched down there during 2023.

Local military enthusiast Michael J. Sanchez posted on X that 34 of the planes that used the airport were the A400 long range military transport aircraft.

There were also 10 C-17As, six C-130s, three Chinooks, three Envoy IV aircraft, one USAF C-40C and one PC6T landing at the local airfield.

It contrasts with 2022, when 117 military aircraft landed in Gibraltar’s airport with around 4,000 military passengers.

Gibraltar was a spybase throughout Cold War times according to website Declassified but still has several sites especially in the Upper Rock which are used by the MoD.

And foreign forces are sometimes stationed on the Rock, the UK government has revealed.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said ‘four non-UK personnel’ were based on the Rock in April 2023.

Three of the C-130 Hercules planes that stopped on the Rock last year were from the Canadian Air Force, Sanchez also revealed.

And the UK has ruled out disclosing exactly how many sites it operates in Gibraltar and what they do.

But Spain’s ambassador to the UN Agustin Santos Maraver asked the UK for ‘the withdrawal of military bases and installations’ at a June 2023 UN meeting.

Despite this, Albares said that talks continue at ‘a very good rhythm’ after the 14th round of negotiations in London.

“The proposal for a balanced, generous and good agreement to create the zone of shared prosperity is on the table,” Albares said in late December.

“We continue to talk and negotiate with great intensity.”

The UK Armed Forces were not able to confirm these military aircraft figures to The Olive Press at the time of going to press.


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