Ciudad Real Central Airport

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Ciudad Real Central Airport
Aeropuerto Central Ciudad Real
Airport type Private
Operator CR Aeropuertos
Serves Ciudad Real and Puertollano
Location Ciudad Real, Spain
Elevation AMSL 636 m / 2,086 ft
Coordinates 38°51′23″N 003°58′12″W / 38.85639°N 3.97000°W / 38.85639; -3.97000Coordinates: 38°51′23″N 003°58′12″W / 38.85639°N 3.97000°W / 38.85639; -3.97000
CQM is located in Spain
Location in Spain
Direction Length Surface
m ft
10/28 4,100 13,450 Asphalt
The control tower and taxiway as seen at take-off
The apron and terminal building

Ciudad Real Central Airport (IATA: CQMICAO: LERL), previously known as Don Quijote Airport and South Madrid Airport, was an international airport south of Ciudad Real in Spain. It is located over 200 km (120 mi) from the centre of Madrid and next to the A-41 motorway, it was planned to be connected to the Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line, making it the first Spanish airport to be linked to the AVE network. Via AVE, the airport would have been 50 minutes away 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.

In April 2012, the airport was closed after just three years in operation, its management company having gone into receivership.[2] It had not received scheduled flights since December 2011, when low-cost airline Vueling withdrew its last route.[3] A BBC News magazine report suggests the airport was planned to fail by its investors, who benefited from construction contracts awarded to their own companies.[4]


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 all commercial airliners, including the Airbus A380.[4] Part of the airport is for private and sport flight facilities. It was planned to have a maintenance area, a heliport and an industrial zone of over 8 km².

The passenger terminal could process 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 terminal to the nearby Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line, but no railway station was ever built.


International flights to the airport began in June 2010, but by October that year all international routes were cancelled, and the airport filed for bankruptcy with more than 300 million euro of debt.[5]

The airport is now[when?] in receivership. Due to poor planning and overoptimism on the part of large financial investors, major deficiencies in the early planning stages were overlooked. The airport was intended to be an overflow airport for Madrid, yet it is situated 227km from the Puerta del Sol (from which Spanish motorway distances are counted), which takes over two hours by road. The airport is situated alongside the high-speed line to Seville, yet has no high-speed station: Journey times to Madrid within one hour might be possible, since the fastest journey times from Madrid to Ciudad Real and Puertollano are currently 0h50m and 1h06m respectively.

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. The passenger traffic was measured in the low thousands, compared to the anticipated traffic of up to ten million. The outlook is bleak after closure. The airport has contributed significantly to the financial trouble of the creditor institutions and the Castilla-La Mancha Regional Government.

As of 1 June 2012, the instrument approaches have been removed from the official documentation. The airport ceased operation on 13 April 2012. The airport was put up for auction on 9 December 2013, for a minimum price of €100m.[6] No one offered that, so the sale period was extended into future.[7]

On 27 July 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.

On 17 July 2015, Chinese investment company Tzaneen International entered into an agreement to buy the airport for €10,000.[8] Tzaneen stated that it planned to use the airport as a European hub for Chinese cargo shipments and that it was prepared to invest an additional €100 million for restoration efforts.[9] The court has rejected the bid to purchase however as being too low.[10][11] The unfinished terminal building and the car parks would not have been included in the 10,000 Euro.[12]

In September 2015 an unidentified UK group made an offer to the court of 28 million Euro for the airport.[13]

Cancelled routes[edit]

In June 2010, Ryanair began the first international service into the airport, running three flights per week from London Stansted.[14] 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.[15]

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,[16] 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.[17]

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.[18]


  1. ^ "CQM is a IATA identifier on the official IATA site". 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  2. ^ Think Web Content S.L. "Ciudad Real airport to close tomorrow". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  3. ^ "Ciudad Real airport shuts after just three years". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  4. ^ a b Harter, Pascale (26 July 2012). "The white elephants that dragged Spain into the red". BBC News Magazine. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Don Quixote's phantom airportEl Pais, 31 October 2011
  6. ^ Spanish ghost airport goes on blockABC, 9 December 2013
  7. ^ Ciudad Real Airport Sale Extended - Tumbit, 30 July 2014
  8. ^ Penty, Charles (17 July 2015). "This Spanish Ghost Airport May Be Sold for Less Than $11,000". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2 January 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ "Spain's unused, billion-euro Don Quixote airport is about to be sold to a Chinese investor for just $11,000". 
  10. ^ GmbH, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (17 July 2015). "Investitionsruine: Spanischer Geister-Flughafen wird für 10.000 Euro – nicht verkauft". FAZ.NET. 
  11. ^ "Diez claves para entender la (no) compra del aeropuerto de Ciudad Real por 10.000 euros. Noticias de España". 
  12. ^ Burgen, Stephen (17 July 2015). "Welcome to Don Quixote airport: cost €1bn - now it could sell to China for €10,000". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "Un grupo británico, a por el aeródromo de Ciudad Real". El País (in Spanish). Ediciones El País S.L. 14 Sep 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ Ryanair cancels the route between Ciudad Real and London from 11 November, La Vanguardia, 27 October 2010
  16. ^ Busch, Simon (2013-12-10). "Spanish 'ghost airport' goes on the block". CNN. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  17. ^ "Volvo Trucks - The Epic Split feat. Van Damme (Live Test 6)" on YouTube
  18. ^ 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. 

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