Lleida airport (pot), meet Ciudad Real airport (kettle)

La Vanguardia appears interested in Spanish local airports as a means of diverting large sums of public money to private pockets to no obvious public benefit–except when the airport happens to be a Catalan one.

Lérida airport with Ryanair plane, without Photoshop, <a href='http://www.flickr.com/photos/thundershead/4491308317/'>CC by thunderhead</a>

Lérida airport with Ryanair plane, without Photoshop, CC by thunderhead

La Vanguardia draws attention to Le Monde‘s paywalled report on Ciudad Real airport in Castilla-La Mancha, which opened in December 2008 and appears to have cost €640 million in public funds so far while only managing 6 flights (not 3: checked on Ryanair) a week.

Funnily enough La Vanguardia fails to mention another struggling minnow, Alguaire-Lleida/Lérida airport in Cataluña, which opened in January 2010 with admitted public investment of more than €95 million, with free landing and charging and annual payments of up to €1.6 million to the airlines, and with no prospect according to Catalan economists of ever breaking even, and which, while it claims 16 flights a week on its website (Vueling 8, Ryanair 8), doesn’t seem to have told the airlines about all of them: I can only find 10 (Vueling 6, Ryanair 4).

Surely La Vanguardia isn’t keeping quiet because it also receives considerable subsidies from the Catalan government!

And surely the Catalan government didn’t support it because its nationalist soul was desperate to have an airport run by it rather than the national operator AENA!

And how absurd to imagine that the basic economic rationale of Alguaire-Lleida/Lérida is the same as is alleged in private for some other loss-making strips of tarmac in Spain: to benefit friendly constructors at the taxpayer’s expense!

We believe that such talk is dangerous nonsense, and if anyone feels in the slightest offended we’ll compensate them with a free return flight by Ryanair from the UK to Granada.


  • Figures from Vueling and Ryanair are for flights in the first week of November, a horizon of a month being perfectly sufficient for fly-by-nights.
  • Free flight to Granada subject to Granada agreeing to recommence payments of Danegeld to Michael O’Leary and to the above horizon.


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  1. Not that it changes the number of flights that use it, didn’t Ciudad Real open in 2008?

  2. And do the free copies of LaVan dished out on buses from Sant Cugat to Barcelona count as ‘distribution’? I mean, who actually *buys* that paper?

  3. I was ordered to buy one after work this morning. It’s 2.50 and the most absolute pile of shite, and heavy too. It probably didn’t help the quality side of things when they unilaterally cut freelancers’ wages by 50%.

  4. I suppose that this is how Catalan politicos want to “fer país”, or “make a country”.

    Lerida-Barcelona is about 1.5 hours in car or train. Already the one hour waiting before take-off and the half hour to get from Barcelona airport downtown sum up that much.

    And doesn’t Cataloonia have an ecologist party in the governing coalition?!

    This couldn’t be worse if administered by the UN.

  5. It’s the only flight I’ve ever heard of where the pilot and co-pilot have had to buy tickets. I suppose they can claim them on expenses.

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