In Spain they call it Aeropuerto Fantasma because all that is flying there today are thousands of birds. Built in 2008 by injecting €450 million, the project turned out to be a dud. Since 2912, the officially named “Don Quijote” airport has been completely deserted. The Chinese Tzaneen Group has now purchased the site for an amount equal to a tip. Their intention is to convert the place into a cargo airport and logistics center.
The scandal-rich European aviation sector adds another inglorious chapter, with a Spanish judge selling the “Don Quijote” airport, located roughly 200 kilometers south of Madrid, to the Tzaneen
Group for the ridiculously low price of 10,000 euros. The judge didn’t have much choice since the Chinese were the only bidders in the public tender where nobody else showed even the slightest
interest in acquiring the now dilapidated property, which ill-advised private Spanish investors had spent 450 million euros on.
Not much is known about the Chinese firm and its involvement in aviation. The only information obtainable from Spanish sources is that Tzaneen submitted 4,000 euros a few months ago to gain entry to the commercial register of the Ciudad Real Province in order to participate in the tender.
Large investments announced
Following the result of the auction the investor presented far reaching plans including the restoration of the run-down place, which contained renovating the runway and taxiway systems and most of the land-side facilities.
In their statement the Chinese Group announced investments estimated at 60 to 100 million euros to convert “Don Quijote” into a cargo airport and large logistics center. Tzaneen says that this is backed by many large Chinese exporting companies that have expressed a high interest in sending their goods destined for the Iberian Peninsula to the site in central Spain by air. The place is very convenient because Madrid is a (relatively) short trucking distance to Barcelona, Lisbon or Malaga being geographically not far away.
No queues expected
To get these far-reaching plans implemented two main conditions must be fulfilled: firstly, that financial promises made by the investor are kept and secondly that no other investor shows up by September 14th willing to pay a lot more, in this particular case at least 28 million euros. The amount equals 70 percent of the airport’s predetermined estimated value of 40 million euros. The Tzaneen deal would become null and void if that would happen.
However, it is safe to say that investors will not be lining up at the Ciudad Real court house in a last-ditch effort to acquire the Aeropuerto Fantasma.
Heiner Siegmund / Michael Taweel