Castellon Airport debacle drags on

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“IT will take longer to bear fruits than what we wanted,” admitted the Partido Popular spokesman in the Valencia parliament, Rafael Blasco, in discussing the still unopened Castellón Airport.

The facility was officially opened in March last year by former regional president Francisco Camps and is still to see its first flight. But Sr. Blasco went on to blame the PSOE socialist party opposition for their ‘attacks’, saying that they hindered progress.

He also claimed that the airport cost less than the money the three-way Catalan Government had given to the now bankrupt Spanair, and accused the PSOE of ‘double standards’ in criticising the airport when they invested in Spanair.

Blasco said that the government is now searching for a viable future for the airport and is seeking to engage a manager.

Despite being inaugurated in a lavish party in March of last year – in what many say was a publicity exercise prior to the elections – the airport has yet to see a plane.

It only recently saw the erection of a statue at the empty airport at a reported cost of some €300,000.

Paycheck

In September it was revealed that the boss of Castellon Airport, Juan Garcia-Salas earns an annual salary of €84,000, more than Spain’s Prime Minister, according to a spokesperson for political party Esquerra Unida (EUPV).

At the time the spokesperson described the revelation as “scandalous” adding that these figures should be shocking to more people especially given the economic recession “when many people struggle to make ends meet.”

Falcons and ferrets

Then in October it was revealed that more than €450,000 had been set aside by Castellon Airport for falcons and ferrets to control animals and birds which could endanger flights.

The airport has put the animal control plans out to public tender with three years to carry out considering it essential that a system to control the presence of animals and birds be put into place.

Experience at other airports has shown that the use of trained falcons keeps down the number of birds around the runways, but this is a specialized service for which the airport has no qualified staff.

Therefore they require a company specializing in catching and controlling birds and animals at the facilities every day of the year.

For animals on land, at least eight ferrets would be used, and a minimum of eight falcons for birds, all of which would have to be handled by experienced professionals.

Castellon Airport cost €150 million, funded by the Public Works Ministry, it occupies 540 hectares and its impressive facilities include a 9,600 square metre passenger terminal (but no passengers) and a truly impressive 2.7km long and 43 metre wide runway (but no planes).

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