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The Ghost Airports of Spain

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Malaga, Spain
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The Ghost Airports of Spain

Last night there was a TV report about what they call the ghost airports of Spain. There are 52 airports in Spain and only 26 are functional. Many of these airports were built during the boom times, which stopped about 5 years ago. They were built by the regional governments because of pride of their regions. If you build an airport, they will come. That was the thought before and the people have not come to use these airports. I read in the newspaper recently that there is one airport every 200 km. in Spain.

The airport at Huesca is in the region of Aragon and is north of Zaragoza. This airport calls itself the Gateway to the Pyrenees. The city has a population of 52,000 only, and is one of the least populated provincial capitals of Spain. There are no scheduled airlines that go to this airport. The only ones that use the airport are those who come on private planes. There have been 18 passengers so far in all these years. The airport employs 25 persons, who have nothing to do at all, according to the TV report. The airport cost 40 million euros to build. I have taken the bus to Huesca from Zaragoza a few years ago and found two sights only that would interest tourists.

The airport of Castellon has just been finished. No airline wants to go there, even if it is subsidized by the regional authority.

Another airport that has problems is the one at Ciudad Real in Castilla la Mancha, and this airport cost 1.1 billion euros. It is in financial trouble and only one airline goes there, with very few passengers.

Still another airport is the one in Leon. There are flights only during summer from Madrid. I have flown into this very little airport in the past to visit Leon.

One would think that these regional governments would have made feasibility studies before actually building the airport. You could have made a study and tried to find out how many people would want to use the airport, how many airlines would be interested in using the airport, etc. Pride is one of the capital sins. The punishment for this regional pride is that the regional governments are now in difficulties because of the huge debts that they have to pay for the costs of these airports. In recent news is Castilla La Mancha, which has a new government that came in after the May 22 elections. The newly elected officials found out that they have a huge debt and cannot pay the salaries of those who work for the government. They have not paid their pharmacies for the last 3 months now, and the pharmacies went on a one day strike recently.

So does anyone want to visit the Pyrenees and use its gateway airport? You will have to charter a small plane to go there, but you will have the honor of being its 19th passenger!

O Savinao, Galicia
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1. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

There has been a big debate in Galicia what to do about the 3 airports we have. All have been expanded, they are despite for the AVE trains line to be finished. But in the end there is only so much traffic wanted to get to Galicia. So all of these things will, in the end, be under-utilised.

There is an airport at Burgos too; hardly is used! (facts at the bottom of the page)

aena-aeropuertos.es/csee/…

Malaga, Spain
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2. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

This reminds me that about two months ago Renfe cancelled their AVE line from Toledo to Cuenca. There were only 9 people on the train every day during the work week. It was costing Renfe 18,000 euros a day to run this under utilized line.

economicsnewspaper.com/policy/spain/renfe-av…

No wonder Spain is in a debt crisis right now and Germany and France want Spain to change its constitucion now so that their debt will be limited.

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3. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

I remember going with some Spanish friends who live in Benicassim up to the airport in Castellon. That was about 18 months ago and my friends couln't believe that it had been built.

Castellon is only about an hours drive from Valencia Airport and hour and a half from Reus. Can't imagine why they have built another.

Malaga, Spain
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4. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

Last night I saw another TV report on the news on the same subject. Of all the airports in Spain, only 11 are economically feasible.

Reus has an airport that is also in trouble.

It seems that the AVE has removed a lot of traffic from airports because if there is a choice, the Spanish prefer to take the train. As Renfe builds more AVE lines, more airports will be in trouble.

I think that it is the politicians who are responsible for so many airports that are in trouble. They want to be remembered for posterity. Now they really will be remembered for posterity for their white elephants.

Ian
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5. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

Not sure about Ghost Airports, but when i worked in Italy, Pisa was known as "the Hidden Airport" as it was still used as a military airport and no signs were erected to show the position of the airport on any road leading to it, you could only find it by watching planes land?take off. Enterance was through an industrial estate. Have not been for 30 years wonder what it is like today.

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6. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

<< I think that it is the politicians who are responsible for so many airports that are in trouble. They want to be remembered for posterity. Now they really will be remembered for posterity for their white elephants. >>

In trouble? Wishful thinking!

Pride? Ha!

IMO these 'white elephants' have more to do with huge amounts of money changing hands (with 'little' amounts lost in transaction...) than with pride or willing to be remembered (this would have been a bonus). The sad fact is no one will remember them, while they happily spend their fortunes!

Albufeira, Portugal
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7. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

The vanity of these projects is one of the reasons why the Spanish economy is in the pits. When I was in northern Spain a couple of weeks ago, I was amazed by the sheer number of public works projects eg new city metro systems, AVE lines, new highways etc, all financed ultimately by the government with money they do not have.

O Savinao, Galicia
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8. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

"new city metro systems, AVE lines, new highways etc,"

Ok I know about the AVE which has been promised and the finishing date pushed back and back...but the others; where are they???

However this is a travel forum not a one for political debate.

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9. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

If these so called, ghost airports were commercially viable without a doubt the likes of Ryanair would be using them. Presumably, there is not a profitable market or enough potential passengers to make it worthwhile.

Malaga, Spain
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10. Re: The Ghost Airports of Spain

belsaita:

I never thought of that factor. You are right.That is why there are so many rich politicians here.

No wonder they do not want to put a constitucional limit to spending.