Cast your mind back to 2004. The boom years in Spain. Property prices were rising, tourists were flocking in and the future seemed rosy with an ever growing market and plenty of land to build on. Lots of Spanish airports were needed to meet the demand. Convenient, cheap flights in and out of Spain were as essential to growth as the army of cranes and inspection visitors.
Fast wind to nearly 10 years on and it’s a very different picture. Most of the cranes have disappeared, inspection visits are few and far between and the airports…
There lies the problem. Spanish airports planned during the boom years are perhaps simply an embarrassing reminder of a different era. They were built, the money was borrowed but now no one wants the responsibility of making them work.
Ever since the Ábaco newsletter was first created, it’s been a running news story. Will Corvera airport ever open? San Javier airport, only about 30 km away was quite comfortably filling local demand and continued to attract new contracts. There was no question that the two could comfortably cater for regular air traffic side by side. One of them had to go. But which one?
San Javier v. Corvera
In terms of size and potential there is not contest. Corvera has a traffic potential of 3 million passengers and can offer flights 24 hours a day. However, in this case, size isn’t everything and in fact might have the opposite effect. San Javier manages comfortably with the current flight schedules why do you need anything bigger?
To get any real insight we need to unpick the story further. The site of Corvera might not be convenient for those on the Orihuela Costa but it certainly is for those further into Murcia and the proposed Paramount theme park. Corvera was not really a stand alone project but has been linked with the vision of a new tourist centre in the form of the Paramount theme park planned to pull in the crowds from all over the world.
Paramount is not ruled out yet, but its progress has been suspiciously slow. Without it as a real attraction it is hard to see how the demand exists. In the meantime all parties can’t fail to recognise the difficulties incorporated in any new project of the dimensions of the new airport.
To complicate matters further, AENA are demanding compensation for the recent investments they have made in San Javier. We could ask why were improvements to San Javier made at all when Corvera was already expected to take over? There have also been issues linked to the use of military airspace. An ongoing story with twists and turns that Tolkien couldn’t have invented.
What is indisputable is that the opening dates for Corvera airport are pushed back on a regular basis. The latest promise that has been made is that Corvera will open by Summer 2015. It’s to be hoped that someone is laying down the weed killer and oiling the doors, if Corvera is ever to be pulled back from the Spanish airport graveyard.