Business / Industries

Chinese-led consortium lands 'ghost airport'

By EMMA GONZALEZ (China Daily) Updated: 2015-07-22 10:03

A Chinese-led consortium hopes to buy one of Spain's "ghost airports" for a knockdown price of 10,000 euros ($10,850) and turn it into an European freight hub for Chinese mainland companies.

Ciudad Real's Central Airport, which is about 235 kilometers south of the capital Madrid, became a symbol of Spain's spending frenzy during a construction boom that ended with the financial crisis of 2008.

Costing between 450 million and 1.1 billion euros to build, the airport opened for international flights in 2010. Three years later, the airport operator CR Aeropuertos went bankrupt after it failed to attract enough flights and passengers, with Ciudad Real's Central going into administration. Since then, it has remained virtually deserted and dubbed "one of the ghost airports" along with another airport in Castellon on the eastern coast, by the Spanish press.

In a move to find a new owner, Ciudad Real's Central Airport was put up for sale, but the only bid came from a Chinese-led consortium headed by investment firm Tzaneen International.

The consortium is willing to invest up to 100 million euros to transform the empty passenger airport into the European point of entry for cargo from Chinese companies. "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," the consortium said.

Last week, the airport went on sale for 40 million euros. But the final selling price was cut to just 10,000 euros after the Chinese-led consortium emerged as the only bidder.

"Potential rival bidders will have a period of 20 days to present alternative offers starting from 28 million euros given that the Chinese offer does not come close to 70 percent of the initial asking price," said a statement by the Spanish administrators.

Francisco Perez, one of the bankruptcy administrators, is still hopeful that another company will move in to force up the price. "CR Aeropuertos is hopeful that another more realistic offer for the infrastructure will be put forward before Sept 15," he told the Spanish press.

Offer from the airport includes freight terminals, a 4,400-meter-long runway and a control tower. Tzaneen has also expressed interest in acquiring the passenger terminal building, which can handle 5 million people per year and the car parks. Both were not included in the original offer.

It is expected that other industrial and financial investors will join the Chinese company to develop the project, although no details have yet been released. In the past few years, Chinese firms have been rumored to be interested in building a freight hub near Madrid.

In 2011, the Spanish media reported that there were plans to create a Chinese logistics center in the city of Estremera, 62 km away from Madrid.

Industrial parts from China would be sent there before being assembled and distributed to the rest of Europe. The project was canceled due to budget issues.

Nonetheless, the Cobo Calleja Industrial Park on the outskirts of Madrid is one of the largest Chinese industrial centers in Europe, with 500 medium and small-size firms importing goods from the Chinese mainland.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks