Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Spain’s ‘white elephant airport’ comes back from the dead

El hombre avión
The Plane Man, by Juan Ripollés - sadly, the sculptor was left out-of-pocket for expenses associated with the stunning work

The desire of some European politicians to spend future public funds to help reinvigorate their domestic economies resulted in numerous civil work projects, many of which were abandoned shortly after construction. In places like Spain, the situation is glaringly obvious with public buildings, pools and even airports sitting empty, based on failed speculative theories on increased consumption and use.

In Castellon, a province in NE Spain, a 15 year plan to construct an airport to increase tourism to its postcard-perfect beaches eventually came into existence 4 years ago. The project was launched with the hope it would tap into various regional carrier markets, on the assumption that foreign money would continually flow into the region’s hospitality and that the real estate market would see increases on par with other parts of the world .

Europe’s sustained economic recession, however, has resulted in high levels of unemployment and corresponding less continental travelers flocking to Spain, let alone relatively undiscovered regions such as Castellon.

Despite the airport sitting idle beyond a few charter flights, expenses were paid for security and rodent and bird exterminators, anxiously preparing for the days when the airport would receive national approval and international use.

This was more than an unneeded, useless €150 million boondoggle - the former politician who cooked up the idea, Carlos Fabra, is currently serving 4 years behind bars for tax fraud associated with the project. The renowned sculptor Juan Ripollés was left out of pocket for his masterpiece gracing the airport's grounds. A whopping €30 million was wasted on advertising. The private contractor hired to operate the airport for 50 years sued for cancellation of his contract. And it took f4 years to be approved as meeting regulatory requirements. No wonder Spaniards were sore about the ghost airport.

Well, the day of waiting has come to an end.
Ryanair will start operating flights to/from Castellón de la Plana Airport, or Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport, with multiple weekly flights from London Stansted and Bristol. Ticket sales have opened, and flights commence in September.

Related resources

Spain's 'ghost' airport finally gets ready to welcome its first flights as Ryanair confirms routes between Castellon and the UK
Ryanair to serve Castellón Airport from Bristol and Stansted
Spanish 'ghost' airport's unused runway to be dug up - 2012
In Spain, a Symbol of Ruin at an Airport to Nowhere - 2012
Castellon de La Plana Airport (CDT) transportation guide (watch for updates)

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