I had no plans to continue writing about Spanish airports and overcapacity this week, when I learned about the opening of the latest Spanish airport: Castelló-Costa de Azahar (CDT), on Spain's Eastern coast, filling the gap between Valencia (VAL) and Reus (REU) airports. Well, I said "open" because it has been actually been "inaugurated", but it will take some time until an airplane is seen taking off or landing at this facility. In reality the timing of the official inauguration has more to do with the Spanish political calendar than with the readiness of the facility (the run-up towards the upcoming local and regional elections).
This is the third airport in Spain to be built and managed outside Aena's network. It is going to be managed by a private consortium, although much of the investment so far has come from the regional and provincial governments, and presumably public money will also be needed to fund the facilities for quite a while, since the airport management company will get €6 per passenger unless the 600,000 passenger/year threshold is reached during the. This figure looks like a distant goal at a time when only Air Nostrum, Iberia's regional franchise has shown some interest in operating from the new airport.
Unlike other Spanish ghost airports, Castelló is located in an area with considerable economic potential, including many export industries (for example, ceramics) and a tourism industry that, until the crisis arrived, had put its sights on massive development schemes to rival those of neighbouring Costa Blanca and Costa Daurada...and here lies the problem: it seems to be that the airport's business plan, its capacity and its management contracts were elaborated under the assumption all these massive development plans were going to be a reality by the time the airport was ready. They aren't. In fact, construction activity in the area has all but collapsed..and it looks like there is going to be another empty airport in Spain, at least for some time...
In the meantime, the Castelló airport has become a sponsor of Villarreal Football Club, that is conducting an excellent campaign. It might not have scheduled flights, but Castelló Airport might well be at the Champions League next year!