Last commercial flight leaves crisis-hit Spain airport

A Spanish airport that has fallen victim to the economic downturn saw its last commercial flight leave on Tuesday, officials said, in the latest sign of the country's sharp reversal of fortune.

"The last commercial flight took off this morning" from Badajoz airport, near the Portuguese border in western Spain, a spokeswoman for the national aviation authority AENA told AFP.

Badajoz was built in 1990 but was hard hit by the economic slump that followed the 2008 property bubble collapse, which has reduced some Spanish airports to virtual ghost sites.

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From January to November 2011, just over 52,000 passengers used Badajoz, 9.3 percent fewer than in the previous year, according to AENA figures.

It had logged a record of 75,000 passengers in 2007, the year before the worst of the financial and economic crisis struck. In 2010 it started work to double the size of its terminal, car parks and runways.

The carrier Air Nostrum, owned by Iberia, announced in November that it was abandoning Badajoz "due to the sharp fall in reservations" in "the economic crisis that has affected the Spanish domestic market".

It was one of several airports washed up by the economic downturn in Spain, which has more hubs intended for international flights than any other country in Europe: 48 public and two private airports.

Another example, the private hub of Castellon in the east, remains deserted after opening in March 2011. In Ciudad Real, central Spain, the last commercial flight left in October.

"Although there are no commercial flights, the airport will remain open and operational for all types of flights," the spokeswoman said, adding that a local air company had asked to use Badajoz for some private flights this week.

by Marianne Barriaux © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Jan 10, 2012