Report Back to Spain (3/3)

Pepe is not here any more

What is going on in Spain? In the last part of his journey, Der Spiegel reporter Juan Moreno reaches his parents’ village in Spain where he realises that the crisis has profoundly changed the life of Spaniards, and of his family too.

Published on 10 August 2012 at 10:33
"El hombre avion" (The Airplane Man) Juan Ripollés sculpture at the entrance to Castellón airport

I reach Castellón, a somewhat sleepy coastal city on the Mediterranean, with a nice park and a phenomenally ugly department store.

As a child, I liked Castellón, the last place where we stopped to get petrol before reaching our village. I'm here because I want to know why Castellón built an airport from which no aircraft has ever taken off; an airport that cost 150 million euros in a city that's only 65 kilometres from Valencia, which already has an airport that's much too big for the region.

I leave the Autopista del Mediterráneo and drive along the CV-10 toward the Castellón airport. The CV-10 is the best highway I've ever driven on. The asphalt is perfect, the signs are new, and there is grass in the central reservation. After about half an hour, I'm standing in front of a fence arguing with a security guard. The man reaches for his radio and says: "Serra 1 to Serra 2, we have a code 3!"

You can trigger a code 3 by asking a guard at the fence whether you can take a look at the airport from up close, an airport that was built with taxpayer money and was officially opened on March 25, 2011.

I get out of the car. Behind me is a large sculpture standing at the access road to the airport. A good friend of a local politician is still working on the piece, which is unbelievably ugly and reportedly cost 300,000 euros. The guard talks into his radio. From where I'm standing, I can see the tower, some of the 3,000 parking spaces and a portion of the 2,700-metre (8,856-foot) runway.

"I gave your licence plate number to the police," says the guard. I nod and think to myself that the Castellón airport isn't even the most pointless – and certainly not the most costly – airport in Spain. An airport was built in Ciudad Real, 160 kilometers from Madrid, at a cost of 1 billion euros. It now serves small private aircraft.

To read the full article go to the Spiegel Online International website...

For the first part of the series: Everything revolves around the crisis

For the second part of the series: Storming Barcelona's banks

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