Ryanair flight FR8555 made history at the troubled airport which was inaugurated in March 2011 at a cost estimated to exceed €150 million ($161 million)
This week the flights finally began after Ryanair struck a deal with aviation authorities to use the airport. There will be three flights weekly between Castellón and London Stansted and twice weekly between Castellón and Bristol.
The first flight was 'baptised' on arrival at Castellón, on Spain's east coast, an hour north of Valencia.
Bautismo del primer vuelo regular que llega al aeropuerto de Castellón… todo era cuestión de fe. ..pic.twitter.com/H6ssLpXTVt
— LAURA CORNEJO (@lauracornejo1) September 15, 2015
The “ghost airport” on Spain’s eastern coast had come to symbolize the reckless public spending that left a nation buckling under debt.
Despite huge amounts being spent on advertising the airport – an estimated €30 million was spent on a package of sponsorship deals – there seemed little to tempt airline operators to the airport and it was suggested that the “white elephant” be converted into a race track or shopping centre.
The airport has been plagued with difficulties. It initially failed to get permits to allow air traffic when it emerged that the airstrip was too narrow and had to be dug up and widened.
— Onda Cero Castellón (@OCR_Castellon) September 15, 2015
Crowds welcomed the flight upon landing.
The man behind the development, the former president of the PP in Castellón Carlos Fabra, has been jailed for tax fraud. Towering over the terminal is a 25 meter high statue that cost €300,000 and represents Fabra.
But on Tuesday the state-of-the-art metal clad terminal was set to receive its first visitors after Ryanair came to the rescue and its flights are expected to prove to be a huge boost to the region, opening up a relatively undiscovered part of Spain to tourism.
The Fabra statue at the airport cost €300,000. Photo: Arjan Veen / Flickr