Don Quijote and the (n)ever growing air traffic

Still looking for a 2nd Sydney airport? Want to spend millions on consultants? You can have it easier than that. Find out about the latest peak oil ignorant airport project by just typing 3 words on the internet:

“Ciudad Real Airport”

formerly known as Don Quijote or Madrid South Airport, 160 km from Madrid (Sydney – Canberra is 240 km for those who think Canberra can serve as a 2nd airport for Sydney)

We read in Wikipedia:

“The airport has turned out to be a financial disaster so far. Due to poor planning and overoptimism on the part of large financial investors major deficiencies in the early planning stages were overlooked. A single airline has signed up to fly out of the airport and none of the potential airlines that were considered were actually interested in utilizing the airport. The actual passenger traffic has measured in the low thousands, compared to the anticipated traffic of up to 10 million. The future outlook looks equally bleak. The airport has contributed significantly to the financial trouble of the creditor institutions.”

Look at this video:

Aeropuertos sin aviones ni pasajeros…

Designed for 2.5 million passengers pa but in 2010 there were only 31,900 passengers

Seems to have been one of Don Quijote’s brilliant ideas


Not so fortunate: Don Quijote and Sancho Panza fighting in vain against the wind mills of peak oil

That gives us a lesson on why we have something like a financial crisis in Spain (and elsewhere).  More ghost projects are in the pipeline:

Infrastructure in limbo as Spain struggles with cutbacks

June 28, 2011

IN MARCH, local officials inaugurated a new airport in Castellon, a small city on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. They are still waiting for the first scheduled flight.

To justify the grand opening, Carlos Fabra, the head of Castellon’s provincial government, argued that it was a unique opportunity to turn an airport into a tourist attraction, giving visitors full access to the runway and other areas normally off-limits.

Castellon Airport, which cost €150 million ($203 million), is not the only white elephant dotting Spain’s infrastructure landscape. Spain’s first privately held airport – in Ciudad Real – was forced into bankruptcy proceedings a year ago because of a similar lack of traffic.

What’s the reason for this failure? The airport was conceived in 1997 i.a. as an alternative to Madrid-Barajas (which was expanded anyway, e.g. terminals T4 and T4S and 2 new run-ways opened in 2004) and then took on its own momentum, supported by banks, consultants and contractors all waiting for a piece of the cake. No review was done on oil supplies before work started in 2004, 5 years after the UK oil peak and one year after the Iraq war.

Even in February 2006, 2 million passengers pa were assumed in the 1st phase, 5 million in the 2nd phase and 9 million pa. in the 3rd phase.

Ciudad Real is on Spain’s high speed rail network, so there was no need for an airport:

The airport is directly adjacent to the high speed rail line Madrid – Seville. A station is planned, but the pedestrian walkway ends in the sky:

The problem here is that one of the justifications for the airport was to serve as a 2nd airport for Madrid and that high speed rail was seen as a link to connect airports. While the actual function of a high speed rail is to REPLACE air traffic.

You think the lessons have been learnt? Read here from Eurocontrol:

2.3 Future Flights

The new forecast is that in 2030 there will be between 1.7 and 2.2 times the number of flights in Europe seen in 2007, with 1.8 the most-likely forecast. Within this growth there will be significant variations, for example: strong growth in Eastern Europe in percentage terms, and limited growth in domestic traffic for many of the currently busier States.

Previous studies: CGO4 Challenges to growth 2004,  CGO8 Challenges to growth 2008, LTF06 Long term forecast 2006

Flash back

In 1952 I arrived in Ciudad Real by steam train from Madrid

Mikado locomotive

and stayed at Fuensanta, looking after rabbits and enjoying donkey rides.

That’s me, Phillipe and Fuljencio. See the water pond?

Care of google map we see it’s still there (above the “A”)

And where is that? Yes, you guessed it, just a runway length away from the airport.

Don Quijote, let the grass grow over the ghost airport and move on to your next adventure!

Update July 2015

Welcome to Don Quixote airport: cost €1bn – now it could sell to China for €10,000

Note the desertification taking place there