Government to close San Javier Airport if Corvera opens
Minister says ‘it makes no sense’ to operate both Murcia-San Javier and Corvera
The national government in Madrid has stated that the asyet unopened airport at Corvera will serve the Murcia region – and there is no room for Murcia-San Javier in their plans.
This is their blueprint if state airport company AENA is given the green light to run Corvera airport, according to minister for public works, Íñigo de la Serna.
He announced on Tuesday that his department has submitted the necessary technical and financial bids to run the airport.
The offer includes the cost of moving all flights from San Javier to Corvera.
AENA is now the only company bidding to run Corvera airport after French company Edeis decided on Monday to pull out of the race.
Following this announcement, Sr de la Serna revealed that he favoured closing passenger operations at San Javier.
He pointed out that “running two airports which are 23 kilometres apart makes no sense” and that moving flights from San Javier to Corvera was “a matter of common sense”.
He claimed that Corvera could be a profitable airport and said it offered ‘growth expectations’ and bidding for it was a reasonable thing to do.
The minister stated that the investment needed to equip and run the airport was around €500,000 and another €5 million would be budgeted for “other contingencies”, but he did not reveal how much AENA had offered to run the airport.
Minister de la Serna said it had not yet been decided whether Corvera would apply the same taxes as other Spanish airports, which increase the price of flights offered by airlines.
Regional councillor for public works, Pedro Rivera announced that the regional hiring board would meet today (Friday) to open the bids and award the management of Corvera airport.
He said that their aim was to get the best company to run the airport, which was a “crucial facility to boost tourism and the regional economy”.
If this is AENA – the only bidder - it is unclear why the public company would pay to run Corvera but receive no compensation for their investment in passenger services at San Javier.
The documents do not make a single reference to €70 million they have spent on the Mar Menor airport.
The management contract is for 25 years and according to the tender documents the company awarded the service has an eight month deadline after signing to carry out all tests and obtain the compulsory licences and certificates which are issued by both national and international agencies.
According to the tender, the estimated passenger numbers for Corvera airport are nearly 1.5 million during the first 10 years and 2.3-2.7 million during the following 15 years.
However, Corvera will have to compete against AlicanteElche airport – also run by AENA - which stands closer to the main tourist areas of Torrevieja and Orihuela Costa.
The tender does not make any reference to the €200 million bank loan to construct Corvera airport which is being paid by the regional government as the guarantor.
About 400 people are work in San Javier airport - but only 70 of them are AENA employees - and their jobs are now at risk.
Trade unions CCOO and UGT have asked the regional and national authorities to guarantee that all workers will keep their jobs and their rights.
UGT spokesman Antonio Jiménez said: “It is unthinkable that a profit-making airport like San Javier could be closed down.”
He admitted he was worried that Corvera airport would become a ‘branch airport to Alicante-Elche airport’.
Moreover, the shopping and restaurant area of San Javier airport was recently refurbished by the private companies awarded the services, whose contracts have not yet expired.
San Javier airport is facing closure