Low-cost airline Ryanair will run the first ever commercial flights from the Spanish "ghost airport" of Castellon, which has lain empty due to Spain's finance crisis, authorities said Wednesday.
Built just an hour's drive from the major airport of Valencia in eastern Spain, the Castellon site became a symbol of the perceived excesses in the building boom which brought Spain crashing into recession from 2008.
It was inaugurated in 2011 but lacked the necessary permits to operate flights and lay deserted for four years. The flocks of tourists its promoters had hoped to lure in the sunny seaside region never came to Castellon airport.
The airport finally obtained permits in December and has since handled a few private flights.
Now the Irish carrier Ryanair plans to link Castellon to destinations in Britain from September, said SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian company which took over the operating of the airport last year.
It will run three flights a week in summer and two per week in winter to London Stansted, and two flights a week to another English city, Bristol.
"These two direct routes represent a major step for both the development of Castellon Airport, and the Valencia tourism industry," SNC-Lavalin said in a statement.
It forecast that Ryanair would carry 61,000 passengers a year on the two routes. The airport has the capacity to receive two million passengers a year.
Several airports were built in Spain during the decade-long construction boom only to lie virtually deserted after the 2008 crash.
One was the airport in Ciudad Real, some 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of Madrid. It cost a billion euros ($1.05 billion) to build and has not found a buyer.
Spain's economy has been gradually recovering since mid-2013 and a record 65 million foreign tourists visited the country last year.