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Spain’s 'ghost airport' set for first flights

Jessica Jones · 11 Dec 2014, 11:50

Published: 11 Dec 2014 11:50 GMT+01:00

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The airport has received approval to begin operations from the Spanish aviation authorities, Spanish newspaper ABC has reported.

Citing sources, the daily says the airport has already passed all the relevant tests and has the necessary certification from the public works ministry for flights to begin.

A final decision is expected on Thursday with paperwork to be finalized in coming days.

The project has been plagued by controversy from the beginning, from the €150 million ($190 million) overspend to the court case surrounding the man behind the airport.

The former president with Spain's ruling Popular Party in Castellón province, Carlos Fabra, was finally put behind bars for tax-fraud on December 2nd after a decade-long battle of appeals. The airport, his pet project, even features a statue said to be of the convicted fraudster.

The airport was opened in 2011 despite having no airlines lined up to fly from there and no official government approval to operate and has become a symbol of the culture of overspending that helped plunge Spain into its economic crisis

The facility will be run by Canadian multinational, Lavalin, for the next 20 years in a €24.5 million deal.

The airport will begin by operating charter flights and it is possible that the first flights will land on the never-before used runway this year.

It has been confirmed that Villareal Football Club will be the first customers of the newly opened airport, flying from Castellón for their matches both within Spain and abroad. The team has previously used Valencia airport for their flights.

Those responsible for the facility predict regular flights will commence from March 2015 to coincide with the Easter tourist season.

ABC has reported that those in charge of the airport are eyeing Ryanair, the Irish low-cost airline, as a possibility to fly to and from Castellón. They are also hoping to establish direct links between the airport and London to attract British visitors.

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José Ciscar, president of Aerocas, the public company that owns the airport recently said that they are "closer than ever" to opening the airport and that he is already working with commercial flights that will use the airport in the spring-summer season.

The airport, if opened, will be a boost to the region, one of the only provinces of Spain not to have a direct air link.

Lavalin predicts that during 2015, the airports first full year open, Castellón will receive around 50,000 passengers and by 2017 that number will have risen to over 200,000.  

The local government will not start to make money on the airport until it exceeds 1.2 million passengers a year, something with will not happen until 2029, according to Lavalin forecasts.

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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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