Ghost airport, now for sale.
Ciudad Real Airport, which is widely viewed as a depressing symbol of the bursting of Spain’s property bubble and of the overspend on large-scale infrastructure projects that many argue plunged the country into its economic crisis, went on sale this week.
Located approximately 200 kilometres south of Madrid, the ‘ghost airport’, boasts Europe’s longest runway - with the aim of attracting the world’s largest commercial planes, the Airbus A380 fleet - an enormous terminal building to handle the ten million passengers expected annually, and cost 1 billion euros to construct.
But not one single passenger flight has taken off from Spain’s first private international airport since it opened in 2011. It has, however, been used for a handful of private flights and was used as the backdrop for Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s film, ‘I’m so Excited’, which tells the story of a doomed passenger flight.
Now the infrastructure’s owners, CR Aeropeuertos, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2012, have put it up for auction to meet creditor demands.
The starting price is 100 million euros – just one tenth of what it cost to build. It is a condition of the auction that 5 per cent of any bid is presented at the same time and can be either in the form of cash or as a guarantee by a financial institution. Interested parties have less than three weeks, until 3pm on 27th December, to present their offers. The successful bid will be announced in mid February.
The Ciudad Real Airport, which has also been called ‘Don Quijote Airport’ and ‘South Madrid Airport’ in its short existence, has been branded “the ultimate folly” by its critics.
They argue that it was always a mistake to build such a large facility in a city of just 75,000 inhabitants and situated halfway between the Spanish capital and the perennially popular southern coast, both of which are well-served by other air hubs and both of which are only an hour away on the high-speed train.
In addition, the critics say, many of Spain’s other airports, of which there are 47 in total, do not have regular passengers and more than 15 have less than one flight of any type per day. Lessons they insist, should have been learned from other ‘ghost airports’ such as the ones in Castellón – where no flight has ever landed or taken off since it opened – and the one in Badajoz, which lies in Extremadura near the Portuguese border.
Speaking on behalf of the firm’s administrators, Francisco Pérez has told reporters: “We know that both in Spain and abroad there exists the idea that building this airport was an absurd operation that made no economic sense, because it is an airport without passengers.
“But this is a theme that has nothing to do with reality. This is an airport that is basically directed at business and industrial activities, which means air freight and companies involved in the aerospace industry.”