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

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Spain’s Ciudad Real airport had turn out to be nearly out of date before the Covid-19 outbreak, operating chiefly as a drop-off point for hunting enthusiasts eager to visit the region’s famous country estates.

The arrival of the coronavirus ended even that trickle of demand, tearing up the growth plans of the owner, CR International Airport SL. But relatively than face the prospect of collapse, the company reinvented the hub as a home for grounded planes, with capacity to store as many as 300 through a series of renovation projects.

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

The main taxiway has already been converted, and accommodates approximately half of the nearly 80 jets parked at the hub. Three more reconstructions are underway to allow for more arrivals, the CEO said, adding that the hub is ecocnomic.

Ciudad Real’s pivot comes as more than 8,100 planes sit down idle around the globe, or 31% of the global fleet, according to aviation database Cirium. An expected resurgence in international trip hasn’t materialized, as fresh waves of infections and trip restrictions kill demand from the U.S. to Australia. Meantime smaller airports are facing a financial crisis of their own, with one in four European hubs struggling to stave off insolvency without state help, according to Airports Council International Europe.

Another Spanish beneficiary of the excess of grounded planes is Teruel airport, 275 kilometers (171 miles) east of Madrid, which expects revenues to increase 25% this year in part because of plane storage. Regional and city authorities own the hub, which was once designed to care for, recycle and stow planes. France’s Chateauroux airport close Paris is another to have turn out to be more focused on storage than trip, even turning absent airlines seeking to store more planes.

Property bonanza

Located approximately 220 kilometers southwest of the Spanish capital, Ciudad Real was once built to minimize the high volumes of traffic the use of Madrid’s main airport. Yet after investment of hundreds of millions of euros, the anticipated demand never arrived and it was once shut down in 2012, even serving as a film set for Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Like other hubs that mushroomed across the country all over a real-estate bonanza in the early 2000s, media have dubbed it a “ghost airport”.

CRIA, as CR International is known, resumed operations in September 2019, with a commerce plan based on attracting cargo flights, plane maintenance and private jets — of which approximately 300 landed before the virus hit.

“Before the pandemic, we started to build four hangars,” Luna said, “They will have to be able in a year, as we expected logistics and maintenance to denote 90% of our revenue. But presently 80% of it is coming from parking.”

Spain’s passenger traffic was once down 80% year-on-year in September, and airports such as Castellon, on the Mediterranean cost, and Lleida, in the northeastern region of Catalonia, have also started to expand their parking and maintenance facilities. Their combined traffic was once just 184,000 travellers in 2019, while 26 airports recorded a couple of million each and every.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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