In the contemporary age, airports offer a crucial method of transport – air travel. Airports are essentially a gateway to the rest of the world, and allow you to travel from nation to nation. As shown in our previous article, some airports welcome over 100 million passengers each year, showing how busy airports have the potential to be. But for all of the bustling airports that exist, there are some that have been left abandoned. Some never even opened, despite enormous expenditure. Read on to have a look at a few famous abandoned airports. This article forms this week’s Sunday Read.
Castellon-Costa Azahar Airport, Spain
Following substantial investment, the Castellon-Costa Azahar airport was opened in 2011. Many years later, only a handful of flights have taken off and landed. The airport has a statue of Carlos Fabra – a local politician who spearheaded the construction – outside. Yet Fabra was sentenced to prison in 2013 for tax fraud… The airport has become an example of the reckless spending that landed Spain in a recession. The future doesn’t look particularly bright.
Ciudad Real Central Airport, Spain
If the above example was a classic example of reckless spending, then we’re not quite sure what category this example falls into! The Ciudad Real Central Airport was constructed on a budget of over 1 billion euro. Having opened in 2010, well behind schedule, the airport was unable to sustain its mammoth running costs, and was unable to shake off its debt of hundreds of millions. In 2012 the airport shut, and it was most recently seen in a Top Gear episode.
Kai-Tak Airport, Hong Kong
One of the more notorious entries on this list, this infamous airport had its fair share of controversy. Pilots often complained of the difficulty of landing, while residents in the vicinity were angered by a perceived lack of privacy. Given the nature of the airport, there were several unfortunate fatal crashes. The airport closed in 1998 – something that many considered long-overdue. Despite various proposals to change the airport, the land remains abandoned to this day.
Johnston Atoll Airport, USA
An airport which required every ounce of a pilot’s training to land successfully, this airport was located on a small atoll in the pacific ocean, technically belonging to Hawaii, USA. The airport was mainly used for military purposes, before the airport closed in 2005. Since then, the runway hasn’t been maintained.
Stapleton International Airport, USA
This airport served Denver, Colorado from 1929 to 1995. In that time, the airport hosted considerable traffic. Plans for the closure of the airport had been years in the making, before a storm in 1997 effectively ended its run. The airport was replaced by Denver International Airport. All that remains now is an old control tower, with residential units having been built over some of the old ground.
Yasser Arafat International Airport, Israel
This airport, located in Gaza, was capable of hosting north of 700,000 passengers per year. It opened in 1998, before shutting in 2000, during the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The airport was heavily damaged, and has failed to operate since. The airport was recently featured in a Guinness Book of World Records attempt, involving simultaneous basketball dribbles – a record was successfully set.
Berlin Tempelhof, Germany
This iconic airport was once the world’s largest building, prior to the Pentagon being built. Built in 1923, the airport enjoyed a 70+ year history, including being a crucial component during the Berlin blockade. Despite protests, the airport ceased all operations in 2008. In subsequent years, the airfield has been used as a park to host various concerts and events, while in more recent times the grounds have been used as an emergency refugee camp.
WH Bramble Airport, Montserrat
This tiny Caribbean Island, and British overseas territory, was devastated by a volcano in 1997. For the following years, the only way in or off the island was via boat or helicopter. Thankfully for the residents, in 2005 construction was completed on a new airport. Little remains of the original airport now.
Croydon Airport, United Kingdom
Once a bustling airport that was crucial in various military efforts, Croydon Airport was once the main airport for London, England. In 1952, more modern airports in different parts of London were considered to be more suitable, thus resulting in Croydon Airport ceasing its operations. What was once a fundamental part of Britain’s military might is no longer, however the main terminal does still stand.
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The Nicosia International Airport, Cyprus
A very interesting airport – once the most important airport of Cyprus. The airport was constructed in the 1930s, and thrived up until the mid 1970s, when the Turkish invasion of Cyprus led to its closure. The grounds around the airport witnessed ferocious fighting, and at the culmination of the war, the United Nations set up the airport up as a buffer zone. Since then, the airport hasn’t ever been used, with the UN using the airport sparingly for peacekeeping purposes.