Spain: An Airport Without Planes?

Airports rarely make for important news stories, aside from some sort of aerial disaster or because personnel strikes turn them into a purgatory for fliers. Spain, however, has an airport with its own star, which has made both print and online headlines since its opening: Castellón airport [es].

This airport was conceived, like so many other absurd public works, in the last decade at the start of the economic crisis, and was opened with fanfare [es] by the then-president of the Council of Castellón, Carlos Fabra, in March 2011, weeks before the municipal elections, despite the fact that facility had no scheduled flights. In fact, they did not even have an air navigation permit. 1500 people attended the event, including Francisco Camps, President at the time of the Generalitat Valenciana, who left office after being charged with bribery [es]. The opening had some borderline grotesque moments that were captured in this fun video from El Intermedio [es], La Sexta's abrasive program.

Adding to the list of nonsense that surrounds this airport is an error in construction [es] that disables

the runway and landing strips and forces them to fix it before it is even debuted, in addition to the construction of a hideously monumental sculpture [es] — an homage to Fabra, according to its artist — in the access roundabout, which has cost 300,000 euros and has not withstood the humidity of the area.

Castellón Airport.

Castellón Airport. From the Blog #La Campana De La Vela.

The airport, although not operational, has considerable annual costs, as this article from [es] breaks down:

Manchas de óxido en la estatua que preside la entrada al aeropuerto. Foto del blog Hits Book.

Oxidized stains on the statue that presides over the entrance to the airport. Photo from blog Hits Book.

Juan García Salas, director general de Aerocas [la sociedad pública que gestiona el aeropuerto], cobró en 2011 88.104 euros, una cantidad bastante superior a los 84.200 euros brutos que ganó en 2010. (…)

Todavía hay más. Los gastos de explotación del aeropuerto de Castellón ascendieron en 2011 a un total de 6.484.935 euros. De ese total, 5.092.596,22 euros se gastaron en el apartado de publicidad, propaganda y relaciones públicas; es decir, más del 78%. Del resto, 918.663 euros fueron a parar a servicios profesionales independientes; 368.865,49 euros a los salarios de sus siete trabajadores; 223.074 euros a trabajos realizados por otras empresas; 129.430 a otros servicios; 23.412 a arrendamientos y cánones y 23.006 a servicios bancarios o similares, entre otros apuntes.

Juan García Salas, General Director of Aerocas [the public society that manages the airport], charged 88,104 euros in 2011, a quantity significantly higher than the 84,200 euros they grossed in 2010. (…)

There's still more. Castellón airport's operating costs amounted to a total of 6,484,935 euros in 2011. Of this total amount, 5,092,596.22 euros were spent on a portion of publicity, propaganda, and public relations; that is to say, more than 78%. Of the remainder, 918,663 euros went to independent professional services: 368,865.49 euros to the salaries of its seven employees; 223,074 euros work done by other companies; 129,430 to other services; 23,412 to leases and royalties and 23,006 to bank services or something similar, among other calculations.

Carlos Fabra [es], the main promoter of this airport and a People's Party politician, belongs to a family with a long political legacy in Castellón. He was council president of this province from 1995 to 2011, a post he left after being charged with crimes of bribery and influence peddling in 2010. He is also the father of Andrea Fabra, the PP deputy that became infamous a few months ago for yelling “Fuck them!” at the Congress while President Rajoy announced new cuts to unemployment benefits.

A few days ago, Fabra himself, now that he presides over Aerocas, announced that a venture capital business group has made an offer to purchase Castellón airport [es] for 200 million euros. The operation, although it is not nearly as beneficial [es] as the Aerocas managers make it out to be, is still good news, given that its maintenance costs. Nevertheless, the news has surprised many people, since apparently the airport is a completely useless infrastructure, and it is worth wondering why anyone would want to take it on.

As such, Twitter created the hashtag #NuevosUsosAeropuertoDeCastellón [es] (#NewUsesCastellónAirport), which became a trending topic on January 10, and netizens began coming up with very innovative ideas.

Eiryah Udhen [es] and Eva [es] opt for sports:

@Eiryah: Recinto de calidad extraordinaria para realizar la Champions League de petanca

@EiryahSite of outstanding quality for the Champions League pitch

@evitalunera: A partir del 7 de julio, los encierros de San Fermín

@evitaluneraAfter July 7, the San Fermín festival

Marina Segovia [es] and David Antonio Tomico [es] are more supportive of art:

@marinuxy_94: una escuela de escultores de figuras de aeropuertos

@marinuxy_94a school for sculptors of airport figures

@DTomico: Monumento homenaje a la soledad

@DTomicoMonument as an homage to solitude

jose melchor valero [es] and Magnes [es] are in favor of dedicating it to night life:

@josemelchor1: Botellódromo oficial de la Provincia

@josemelchor1Official Province Speakeasy.

@ValNyx: Fumadero de marihuana. Por lo menos que allí vuele alguien” AAAAJAJJAJAJAJ

@ValNyxMarijuana den. At least someone will fly there AAAAHAHHAHAHAH

Marte con más tráfico aéreo que el aeropuerto de Castellón. Imagen de Cuánta Razón.

Mars with more air traffic than the Castellón airport. Image from Cuánta Razón.

Javier Etxarri [es], Tanya G [es] and ElNinjaDeLasGalletas [es] opt for wildlife:

@jetxarri: Uno en cada provincia! RT”@quiquepeinado: Zoorrupto, un lugar para criar corruptos en cautividad”

@jetxarri: One in every province! RT”@quiquepeinado: Zoorupto, a place to raise corrupt individuals in captivity”

@TanyGomez: Caracolódromo

@TanyGomezSnail house

@Chinobi_Ninja: y si a falta de aviones montamos un Angry Birds a escala real? Será por cerdos para atinarles…

@Chinobi_Ninjawhat if, in the absence of planes, we mounted full scale Angry Birds? We will aim at them since they are pigs…

Gorka Zumalabe [es] and ManuMillán [es] make a sarcastic point:

@tormentad: Y paralizar la actividad normal del aeropuerto? estáis locos? XD XD

@tormentadAnd paralyze the airport's normal activity? Are you insane? XD XD

@Manu_Millan cementerio de maletas

@Manu_MillanLuggage cemetery

DiQuijorna [es] has the most revolutionary idea of them all:

@JordiDiaz71: Se podria usar de aeropuerto que es de lo unico que parece que al final no se va a usar

@JordiDiaz71We could actually use the airport, which is the one thing that seems will not be used in the end

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