Will a Spanish “ghost airport” become a European cargo beachhead for China?
175 km south of Madrid, Ciudad Real Central Airport (CQM) sits empty. Built at a cost of over €1 billion during a Spanish construction boom that ended with the financial crisis of 2008, it opened in 2010, but never attracted any airlines. Its operator, CR Aeropuertos soon went bankrupt, and CQM earned the nickname “ghost airport” in the Spanish media.
The airport, which has one of the longest runways in Europe, was eventually put up for bid, and at an Auction this summer, Tzaneen International, a Chinese-led consortium was the only bidder – offering just €10,000, but saying it would invest up to €100 million to turn Ciudad Real Central into a cargo hub.
Quoted in the Chinese media, the consortium said “The purchase would be the first step toward creating a hub in the Ciudad Real area specializing in transport, storage and distribution of cargo from various parts of the world, with special attention to the Chinese market.”
And what kind of cargo might be the focus of this plan? One source tells Cargo Facts that much of the cargo involved would be express shipments generated by the various B2C and C2C online shopping websites of China’s Alibaba Group, or shipments of European goods to distribution centers in China (and vice versa), again primarily for the e-commerce industry.