Ciudad Real Central Airport
|Ciudad Real Central Airport
Aeropuerto Central Ciudad Real
|IATA: CQM  – ICAO: LERL – LID: CQM|
|Serves||Ciudad Real and Puertollano|
|Location||Ciudad Real, Spain|
|Elevation AMSL||636 m / 2,086 ft|
Ciudad Real Central Airport (IATA: CQM, ICAO: LERL), previously known as Don Quijote Airport and South Madrid Airport, is an international airport south of Ciudad Real in Spain. Located over 200 km (120 mi) from the centre of Madrid and next to the A-41 motorway.
The airport is bordered by the Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line, and plans have been approved (not yet executed) to open a passenger AVE terminal making it the first Spanish airport to be linked to the AVE network. Currently the closest AVE stations are Ciudad Real or Puertollano, a short 15 minute drive. From there the airport is 50 minutes away, via AVE, from either central Madrid or Córdoba, and less than two hours from Seville and Málaga.
It was the first international private airport in Spain, costing €1.1bn to build, and operations started in 2009. In April 2012, the airport was closed after just three years in operation, its management company having gone into receivership. It has not received scheduled flights since December 2011, when low-airline Vueling withdrew its last route.
The current Airport License, although temporarily suspended, is valid until December 2018. The new owners have requested AESA (Agencia Española de Seguridad Aérea) to review the facility and to reinstate the License submitting all the required info and initiating the repair works in July 2016.
The airport has a single runway, 4,100 m (13,500 ft) long and 60 m (200 ft) wide, one of the longest in Europe and able to accept the largest commercial and cargo airplanes, including the Airbus A380.
The passenger terminal can handle a maximum of ten million passengers a year, and its cargo facilities a maximum of 47,000 tonnes a year. A 300 m (980 ft) long foot bridge was built to connect the passenger terminal to the nearby Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line, but no railway station was ever built.
The Airport has been planned as a major logistics and cargo center due to the connectivity to the Spanish highway and railway network and the singular location of the Airport.
The Airport initiative covers almost 2,000 Ha. The initial zoning allocates most of the space to the Industrial Park, to the Cargo activity and to Industrial Airplane Operations covering MRO, revamping, spare part recycling, …
International flights to the Airport began in June 2010, but by October that year all international routes were cancelled. CR Aeropuertos (The Airport promoter and initial owner) filed for bankruptcy with more than 300 million euro of debt and remains in receivership. Due to poor planning and over optimism on the part of large financial investors, major deficiencies in the early planning stages were overlooked. The airport has contributed significantly to the financial trouble of the creditor institutions and the Castilla-La Mancha Regional Government.
A single airline signed up to fly out of the airport and none of the potential airlines that were considered were interested in using the airport for passenger operations. The passenger traffic was measured in the low thousands, compared to the anticipated traffic of up to ten million.
The airport ceased commercial operation on 13 April 2012 and as of 1 June 2012, the instrument approaches have been removed from the official documentation by AESA signaling the temporary closing of the Airport.
The airport was put up for auction on 9 December 2013, for a minimum price of €100m. That price was not reached, so the sale period was further extended. On July 27, 2014 the Commercial Court of Ciudad Real agreed to extend the deadline for the sale of the facility for a 7th time, lowering the asking price to €80m in an attempt to find a buyer. That price was further lowered in early 2016 to a minimum reserve price of €50m.
During this period the Court received multiple offers that either did not provide adequate financial guarantees or that did not meet the minimum requirements. On July 17, 2015, it was reported that Chinese investment company Tzaneen International entered into an agreement to buy the Airport for €10,000 to build a European hub for Chinese cargo shipments with a commitment to invest an additional €100 million to restoration efforts and to acquire the remaining property. The bid was disqualified by the Court for being too low. . Other publicized offers included one from a UK group on September 14, 2015.
The Airport was finally sold in a Court Action on April 17, 2016. The winning bid was submitted by Ciudad Real International Airport (CRIA) at €56.2 million. CRIA has completed payment of 5% of the amount and has a deadline of 12 months to complete the remaining amount.
The Ciudad Real Mercantile Court issued a Court Order on April 20, 2016 awarding ownership of the Aiport to CRIA and requesting the collaboration of all the administrative bodies to fully reinstate the Airport license.
In June 2010, Ryanair began the first international service into the airport, running three flights per week from London Stansted. These flights were operational until 11 November 2010, and the low-cost carrier flew approximately 22,000 passengers into or from the airport during the six months it served the route. The route operated three times weekly, but due to a breakdown in trade agreements with Ryanair and financial difficulties of the airport, the route was cancelled, and 22 jobs were lost.
The Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling served the airport with flights to Barcelona El Prat Airport and Palma de Mallorca Airport, but flights to the airport ceased on 29 October 2011. Air Berlin served the Palma de Mallorca route, ceasing service on 30 May 2010. The Spanish regional carrier Air Nostrum flew from Barcelona El Prat Airport and Gran Canaria Airport during 2009.
In 2012, Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar shot portions of his I'm So Excited! at the airport, while in 2013 Volvo Trucks chose the disused runway as the set of a commercial stunt that went viral, featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme performing the splits between two moving trucks.
On 14 July 2013, episode 3 of Top Gear's 20th season aired, featuring Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond visiting the empty terminal building during a "budget" supercar challenge in Spain and racing a McLaren MP4-12C Spider, Audi R8 V10 Spyder and Ferrari 458 Spider on the closed runway, while being amazed at finding the entire airport deserted.
- "CQM is a IATA identifier on the official IATA site". Iata.org. 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
- "Ciudad Real welcomes first international scheduled flight; Ryanair to serve London Stansted three times per week". 2 June 2010. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012.
- Ryanair cancels the route between Ciudad Real and London from 11 November, La Vanguardia, 27 October 2010
- Busch, Simon (2013-12-10). "Spanish 'ghost airport' goes on the block". CNN. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
- on YouTube
- Scutt, David (20 July 2015). "The abandoned Spanish airport made famous by Top Gear may be about to sell for only 10,000 euros". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 7 May 2016.