‘Ghost’ airport of Murcia may fly at last


TEN YEARS after work began on the region’s new International Airport, Corvera, the ‘ghost’ airport of Murcia may be ready to receive its first plane.

The Regional Government has begun the process to finally bring Corvera Airport into operation, almost five years after the works were completed with an investment of around 270 million euros.

Once again they will put the management contract for this ‘ghost’ travel hub out to tender, despite the fact they are embroiled in a long-running legal battle with the first company to win the concession back in 2007.

The new phase of this cripplingly expensive aviation saga began on March 25 with the bidders’ conditions released in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Interested companies have until May 2 to register. After that date, those who can provide proof of financial buoyancy and experience will have two months to provide detailed technical and economic plans.

The concept of a second airport in Murcia was originally conceived in July 2001 by the Sociedad Aeropuertos de Murcia.

After receiving an initial investment of €270 million building work began in 2007 and is virtually complete.

But the facility was never inaugarated and never opened to the public. In December 2015, the regional government was forced to cancel the contract with concessionaire Sacyr from Madrid on the grounds that the company granted the concession had exceeded its allotted time period.

The subsequent legal battle between Sacyr and Murcia’s authorities has become increasingly complex and is now headed for the High Court.

Corvera is the first regional airport to be put out to tender since the frenzy to open small airports across Spain began sapping resources and leading, in the case of Castellón and Ciudad Real, to years of disuse. Ciudad Real was last year sold to a Chinese consortium for 10,000 euros.

In the case in Huesca, Lérida, Salamanca, León, La Rioja, Burgos and Albacete, the crippling losses have been absorbed by the airport networks.

When it opens, Corvera will replace the region’s San Javier airport, but that in itself creates further problems.

The Ministry of Development has invested 70 million euros recently on San Javier Airport. AENA, the management company who run the majority of Spanish airports, have built a new terminal, control and another runway on the property they share with the Ministry of Defence.

According to estimates from Murcia’s Department of Development and Infrastructure, Corvera will be able to welcome 800,000 foreign tourists in the first four years, pushing total passenger traffic up to 3.5 million a year, a figure which could, in time, rise to 5 million. It will also create 20,000 jobs and raise regional GDP by 3.5 percentage points.

These passenger figures would mean revenue of €495.8 million (€600 million including sales tax) in the first 25 years. A complementary activities zone totaling 600,000 square meters is also on the cards, with profits from it remaining in private hands.

The successful bidder will be able to establish fees and negotiate with airline operators – a freedom which should improve competitiveness in the Alicante, Murcia and Almería regions and allow for more efficient management, according to the authorities.

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