A Chinese-led consortium is poised to pick up an airport that cost about AUD 1.5 billion to build, for a sum equivalent to under AUD 15,000 – less than the cost of a new car.
A notorious symbol of Spain’s wild spending days that have left the country deep in debt, Aeropuerto Central Ciudad Real is a huge white elephant that nobody else wants.
The buyer, Tzaneen International, says it wants to make the airport an entry point into Europe for Chinese companies.
The airport hasn’t seen a single commercial flight since 2011 – even though it boasts Europe’s longest runway and a cavernous terminal ready to handle 10 million passengers a year.
Spain’s first private international airport, less than an hour’s drive from Madrid, exemplifies the country’s real-estate bubble. It ended up on the auction block with a starting price of one-tenth of what it cost to build. It has fetched far less than even that.
Aeropuerto Central Ciudad Real was built halfway between Madrid and the Andalusian coast (and an hour away from each by high-speed rail) but not enough research was done and the airport failed to find favour with airlines or passengers. In the end, airlines and passengers do matter to an airport.
Written by Peter Needham