For Sale: Spanish airport on the block at 10 percent of cost

The Ciudad Real airport, sometimes called the 'ghost airport', is being auctioned for a fraction of its cost, at the expense of taxpayers.

Despite having one of the longest runways in Europe, and as yet hardly ever used, Spain’s so-called ‘ghost airport’ at Ciudad Real – a telecommuter suburb of Madrid – went on the auction block on December 9 with an opening price of just a tenth of the cost of its construction. The receivers of the company that owned the airport, which went into bankruptcy for three and a half years ago, offered the airport at a minimum starting price of 100 million euros despite an initial investment of over  1.1 billion euros. The first deadline for the sale is at 3 PM local time in Madrid on December 27.
 
Bidders are expected to offer only serious bids of at least 100 million euros. They must submit a financial guarantee of 5% of the total offered , either in cash or through a bank or insurer. If the airport has not sold during the first phase of the sale, a second round of bidding will  open in a public auction where the price of the airport will be set at between 80 and 100 million euros. A deposit will also be required.
 
The airport, which some critics have derided as ‘Pharaonic’ in its scope, was built mostly with funds from the regional government and Caja Castilla-La Mancha, the first savings bank to be rescued by the Bank of Spain during the 2008 crisis. Construction of the airport was expected to relieve traffic congestion at Madrid’s Barajas airport, some 150 miles away. Much like the 'ghost airport', there remain numerous residential areas, built during the housing boom of the last decade, that are unsold and abandoned in Spain.
 
Originally, plans included having a train station at the airport that would quickly get passengers to and from the capital. But the funds were exhausted before it could be put into effect. The airport was designed to handle 2.5 million passengers a year. In the nearly three years that remained open for both commercial and private flights, it served a little more than 100,000 passengers. Thus it was proved that projections for the use of the facility were unrealistic. Ciudad Real has a population of just  74,000.
 
The first commercial flight arrived at the Ciudad Real airport in December 2008, which began closing during the first half of 2011. The scheduled opening of the facility, which had been planned for October 2008, was postponed because it did not comply at that time with the requirements imposed by the European Union.
 
The passenger terminal at Ciudad Real measures approximately 92,000 square feet. The runway is approximately 13,200 feet long. 
 
(This article corrects an earlier version that had incorrectly estimated the length of the Ciudad Real airport runway)


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

Filed under politics, spain, business, government, eu, politics, Europe

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