A number of Northamptonshire families have been celebrating at the opening of an airport on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
Castellon Airport has been more than 12 years in the making, at a cost approaching 200m euros, and was officially opened and ready to receive flights more than four years ago.
But because of Spain’s economic crisis and a series of teething troubles and legal difficulties Castellon became known as a “ghost airport” as it lay unused – until this week.
Ryanair has begun a service with three flights each week to and from Stansted, which is a delight to many people in Northamptonshire who have holiday homes in the seaside village of Alcossebre, just 15 minutes’ drive from the new airport.
The area was originally developed by Irthlingborough overseas property specialists Headlands International and is often dubbed “Northamptonshire on Sea!”
Among the first passengers was Northamptonshire County Councillor Bill Parker with his family.
He said it was thrilling to be part of aviation history and was impressed to be met by cheering crowds, a champagne reception and a celebratory fountain over the aircraft, provided by the airport’s fire service.
Graham and Pauline Wright of Brafield, near Northampton, said they had followed the development from its earliest planning stages almost 20 years ago.
At one stage it had become a local joke when people thought it would never open for passengers.
Mike and Teresa Webb, of Wellingborough, have a holiday home near the airport and said how delighted they were that the airport approach took them directly over their property.
Mr Webb said he hoped that with Ryanair’s bookings open for next summer interest would be strong enough to sustain the airport and attract other airlines to use it.
Michael and Susan Herman, of Northampton, drove to the airport to watch the arrival and meet friends.
Mrs Herman said she was pleased to see so many Spanish as well as English well-wishers and she hoped the airport would be good for jobs in an area where unemployment, especially among young people, is very high.