Welcome to Castellón: First tourists touch down at Spain’s ghost airport

It’s taken more than four-and-a-half years but on Tuesday morning at 10.40 the first ever commercial flight touched down on the virgin runway at Spain’s infamous ghost airport of Castellón.

Welcome to Castellón: First tourists touch down at Spain's ghost airport
The first Ryanair flight will land at Castellón airport on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

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. 

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.

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

Gallery: Top ten things to do in Castellon

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