In September, something strange will happen at Castellon airport in eastern Spain: an aircraft will land there.
Despite being officially opened with much ceremony in March 2011, to date, no regular commercial flight has ever landed or taken off from the “ghost” airport, leaving it as a stark reminder of just how much Spain binged on cheap debt in the years before the economic crisis.
It cost more than €150m (£106m) to build and included, at its entrance, a 7.3m (24ft) copper statute – which itself cost over €300,000 – of Carlos Fabra, a local politician and the brains behind the project. Fabra, a member for the governing PP and the former head of the Castellon region, is unlikely to see the first plane land, however, since he is now serving a four-year sentence for tax fraud.
At the time of the grand opening, Fabra told reporters: “They say that we’re crazy for inaugurating an airport without planes. They don’t understand anything… this is an airport for people.”
The white elephant is about to come to life, however, after Ryanair confirmed that it is set to open routes to Castellon from Stansted and Bristol airports in September.
“Now everyone from the Castellon region can also enjoy Ryanair flights at the first privately operated airport in Spain,” said the company’s marketing manager, José Espartero.
Travel agenda - 6/03/2015
Travel agenda - 6/03/2015
1/8 Knick of time
Knick of time
New York's historic Knickerbocker has become a hotel once again, decades after it last opened its doors to guests. The 1906-built hotel, which for many years housed offices, now has 330 modern rooms and suites, plus the St Cloud rooftop bar, a restaurant and a café. theknickerbocker.com
2/8 Speak up
Play your music out loud on the go with a portable speaker. Available from the end of this month, the compact JBL Go can be connected via Bluetooth or aux, and offers up to five hours of playing time. It comes in eight different colours and also has a built-in speakerphone, so you can take calls through it. £29. uk.jbl.com
3/8 Gravy train
Belmond is running a second series of pop-up foodie evenings with celebrity chefs aboard its luxury UK trains, British Pullman and Northern Belle. The first event will be hosted by Saturday Kitchen's James Martin (pictured) on 31 March, with Tom Kerridge, Raymond Blanc and Anton Mosimann on additional dates between March and September. belmond.com
4/8 Off to Egypt
Off to Egypt
Manchester gets reconnected to Cairo from July. The first departure of Egyptair's route, which has not operated for several years, is on 2 July; from 21 July, the frequency will be five days a week. It will offer onward connections to a range of destinations. egyptair.com
5/8 Bird's eye view
Bird's eye view
The Royal Geographical Society's latest exhibition, "Britain From The Air", opens in Leeds next week. Victoria Gardens will host the outdoor display of aerial photos from 12 March for eight weeks; it will be free to view 24 hours a day. Visitors will also be able to walk on a 16-metre-long Ordnance Survey map. rgs.org/bfta
6/8 Chop chop
Fancy a free helicopter ride? BA Holidays is including in its Monaco packages a one-way chopper transfer to or from Nice airport. Just book a package with flights and accommodation at one of BA's seven hotels in Monaco. Minimum two-night stay in winter and five nights in summer. The deal also gives free entry to certain attractions. bit.ly/MonacoBA
7/8 On the ball
On the ball
A newly launched travel magazine has a highly specific niche, as its title indicates: Football Weekends. It aims to tell fans how to reach Europe's grounds "from Barcelona to Berlin", and also features the top sights to see, the best bars and a match-day stadium guide. Issue 1 is priced at £4.50, including postage. footballweekends.co.uk
8/8 Bali, hi!
From 3 June, Emirates will fly daily from Dubai to Bali, opening up the prospect of one-stop services from Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow as well as Heathrow. The flight time from Dubai to the Indonesian island is around nine hours. emirates.com
It would be unfair to say that Castellon airport has not been used at all since 2011. The Villarreal football team sometimes uses it when chartering flights to play away games, although as some have pointed out, the club’s shirt sponsor used to be none other than Castellon airport itself.
Castellon is one of a number of building projects that fell victim to developers going out of business, running out of funds or not appreciating that their masterpiece was not needed during the boom years.
Another airport, in Ciudad Real, remains unused despite costing more than €1bn to build. Airlines did use it, but left when the company managing it went bust.
In Benidorm, what was supposed to be Europe’s largest block of flats – the 200m-high Intempo – has just been completed after taking more than eight years to build.
In the 1990s, Spain’s regions were told by Madrid to embark on projects that would set them apart from each other and encourage tourists to visit places other than the Costas – as part of the project, Bilbao built the Guggenheim.
While projects such as Castellon airport attract attention, many other buildings – mostly housing blocks – sit unfinished and uninhabited across Spain.
With an economic recovery slowly gaining traction it is hoped that new developers finish some of these projects, but like the airport, many were not wanted, or needed, in the first place.Reuse content