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Madrid airport 'to be Europe's third busiest'

It has been predicted that Madrid's international airport will become Europe's third busiest air hub in terms of departures in 2010.

Madrid-Barajas international airport will overtake London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol to become Europe's third busiest travel hub in terms of departures, according to air navigation agency Eurocontrol.

The group predicted that the number of takeoffs from the Spanish capital's main airport will rise to 255,442 a year in 2010.

This would represent an increase of 17 per cent in departures from last year and be the biggest rise of the ten busiest airports in Europe.

Barcelona's El Prat airport will see the second highest growth in rate of departures, with 190,739 expected in 2010, following the opening of its fourth terminal in 2009, according to Eurocontrol.

Victor Aguado, director general of the company, said: "Madrid and Barcelona have capacity [to grow] but they need to work to make this available."

He added: "It means developing operational systems, organising runways and the control tower."

Paris Charles de Gaulle is expected to remain the busiest base, with 297,000 takeoffs in 2010, followed by Frankfurt with 265,000 departures.