Spanish ‘ghost airport’ reinvents itself as park for idle jets – travel

Spain’s Ciudad Real airport had turn into virtually out of date earlier than the Covid-19 outbreak, working primarily as a drop-off level for searching fans eager to go to the area’s famend nation estates.

The arrival of the coronavirus ended even that trickle of demand, tearing up the expansion plans of the proprietor, CR International Airport SL. But quite than face the prospect of collapse, the corporate reinvented the hub as a house for grounded planes, with capability to retailer as many as 300 by a collection of renovation initiatives.

“When the pandemic hit, right after the end of the hunting season in February, we received dozens of requests to stow planes,” stated Francisco Luna, chief govt officer at CR International, which purchased Ciudad Real in 2016.

The fundamental taxiway has already been transformed, and accommodates about half of the just about 80 jets parked on the hub. Three extra reconstructions are underway to permit for extra arrivals, the CEO stated, including that the hub is worthwhile.

Ciudad Real’s pivot comes as greater than 8,100 planes sit idle world wide, or 31% of the worldwide fleet, in response to aviation database Cirium. An anticipated resurgence in worldwide travel hasn’t materialized, as contemporary waves of infections and travel restrictions kill demand from the U.S. to Australia. Meanwhile smaller airports are dealing with a monetary disaster of their very own, with one in 4 European hubs struggling to stave off insolvency with out state assist, in response to Airports Council International Europe.

Another Spanish beneficiary of the surplus of grounded planes is Teruel airport, 275 kilometers (171 miles) east of Madrid, which expects revenues to extend 25% this yr partially as a consequence of aircraft storage. Regional and metropolis authorities personal the hub, which was designed to take care of, recycle and stow planes. France’s Chateauroux airport close to Paris is one other to have turn into extra targeted on storage than travel, even turning away airways in search of to retailer extra planes.

Property bonanza

Located about 220 kilometers southwest of the Spanish capital, Ciudad Real was constructed to cut back the excessive volumes of site visitors utilizing Madrid’s fundamental airport. Yet after funding of lots of of thousands and thousands of euros, the anticipated demand by no means arrived and it was shut down in 2012, even serving as a film set for Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Like different hubs that mushroomed throughout the nation throughout an actual-property bonanza within the early 2000s, media have dubbed it a “ghost airport”.

CRIA, as CR International is understood, resumed operations in September 2019, with a marketing strategy primarily based on attracting cargo flights, aircraft upkeep and personal jets — of which about 300 landed earlier than the virus hit.

“Before the pandemic, we started to build four hangars,” Luna stated, “They should be ready in a year, as we expected logistics and maintenance to represent 90% of our revenue. But right now 80% of it is coming from parking.”

Spain’s passenger site visitors was down 80% yr-on-yr in September, and airports such as Castellon, on the Mediterranean value, and Lleida, within the northeastern area of Catalonia, have additionally began to increase their parking and upkeep services. Their mixed site visitors was simply 184,000 travellers in 2019, whereas 26 airports recorded multiple million every.

(This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.)

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