Out of Spain’s 47 state-run airports, almost 30 may be partially shut soon as part of a cost-cutting operation by the Spanish government.
A report in the Daily Telegraph says some of the worst performers include Badajoz which is located near the border with Portugal (and which has not been used for commercial flights since January), while Huesca in the Pyrenees welcomed less than 3,000 passengers who touched down on its runway during the whole of last year.
Twenty Spanish airports handle fewer than 100,000 passengers yearly, which is significantly below the half a million figure needed for profitable operating results.
Huesca, for example, is open year round although its ski season lasts only during the winter – nevertheless the terminal is fully-staffed twelve months of the year.
Spain also has two private airports: Ciudad Real, which was heralded as Madrid’s second airport to rival the main hub, Barajas when it opened in 2008. However since it opened routes have already been cut due to a lack of demand from passengers.
According to reports, an investigation has been launched after the 1.1 billion euro Ciudad Real Airport was forced to close just three years after it opened in December 2008. One report says 407 planes took off or landed at that airport between October last year and February this year. Low cost airline Vueling also pulled out of the airport in December and since then the runway has been used for private planes, including a visit by Prince Harry during a hunting trip.
Meanwhile in Valencia’s Castellon, near the popular timeshare destination Benidorm on the east coast of Spain, not a single commercial jet has taken off at the city’s brand new airport which “opened” in March last year. It cost at least €110 million (the airport terminal itself cost €78 million to build) – and one year on it is still sitting empty.
Apparently the regional Valencia government wants to sell Castellon airport along with the land, as the opening of the airport has been delayed by bureaucracy and the signing-off of paperwork including its all-important security certificate. The contract now appears to be ready but the authorities still have to appoint a company to manage the security operations at Castellon airport.
Just recently, low cost Irish airline Ryanair slammed Spain’s air traffic controllers for striking and the airline is campaigning for the right-to-strike to be taken away from European airport workers. A series of strikes already this year at main European airports, including Spain and Portugal, has disrupted routes and caused innumerable passenger delays.