THE last commercial flight took off from Badajoz airport last week although it will remain open for private aircraft.
Badajoz in Extremadura at least escapes closure, unlike Ciudad Real airport which ceased operating last year.
It will remain closed for a year, following withdrawal of funding from Castilla-La Mancha’s regional government and the termination last October of its contract with low-cost airline Vueling.
In Badajoz’s case, Iberia subsidiary Air Nostrum cancelled its last remaining flights between Extremadura, Madrid and Barcelona.
Reservations between Badajoz and Madrid were 25 per below expectations and those for Barcelona fell by 29 per cent, said Air Nostrum.
The economic crisis had affected the domestic market, explained a company spokesman, while higher fuel prices had eaten away at cost-effectiveness.
Extremadura regional government’s decision to end its advertising campaign with the airline last month was “especially relevant” said the company.
Airport authority Aena emphasised that private flights would continue, despite an absence of commercial flights.
For the time being the airport’s 35 employees continue to turn up for work, while the regional government confirmed it was in talks with several companies to guarantee an airline connection for 2012.
Meanwhile, in Galicia, the regional government is in effect subsidising every passenger using local airports. The €1 million paid to Air Nostrum and Vueling last year for flights between Vigo and Brussels or Sevilla worked out at exactly €102.6 per person.
La Coruña airport received €925,100 and travellers using routes to Amsterdam or Valencia worked out at a more economical €36.7.
Despite receiving practically €2 million, however, both airports lost passengers last year, according to Aena. Figures were healthier for Santiago airport where each traveller cost €6.7.
The airport received €882,000 to subsidise low-cost airlines and saw passengers increase by 13.34 per cent to 2.4 million last year, the Xunta revealed. Introduced in 2005, subsidies for the last two years amounted to €7 million and the regional government has allocated €1.3 million for 2012.
The Xunta is now negotiating with several companies with the “overriding aim” of ensuring cost effectiveness, said regional president Alberto Núñez Feijóo.
By Linda Hall