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THE 'GHOST' COMES TO LIFE: NICKNAMED 'THE GHOST' BECAUSE ITS OPENING HAS BEEN DELAYED FOR SO LONG, THE NEW MURCIA AIRPORT WAS GIVEN A ROYAL LAUNCH IN JANUARY TOM ALLETT REPORTS.

The much-delayed New Murcia Airport (IATA: RMU) was officially opened on January 15 and received its first flight the same day. The new facility replaces San Javier Airport (MJV), for commercial flights; MJV had handled civil and military flights until the last passenger service a day earlier.

Often informally referred to as Murcia-Corvera, it was always intended to succeed MJV, which was too small to accommodate increasing passenger numbers. However, despite construction work being completed in 2012, RMU remained empty for several years and was soon nicknamed 'the ghost airport' by the mainstream press.

Several scheduled openings failed to happen and, in May 2015, the Murcian government withdrew the airport's operating contract from the Aeromur company. The contract was subsequently put out to tender and in November 2017, the government announced work was being awarded to airport operator AENA which, until that point, had made significant investments in the San Javier Airport. Five months later, AENA declared RMU would open in January 2019-a pledge that was achieved.

The terminal building consists of two main halls with a combined surface area of approximately 398,265sq ft (37,000[m.sup.2]), and their design makes great use of the available natural light.There are 24 conventional check-in counters, plus one for outsize baggage and nine boarding gates - three for Schengen and six for non-Schengen flights. The single runway (05-23) is 9,842 X 147ft (3,000 X 45m) long, has a full parallel taxiway alongside it and a "fast exit" turning point at the head of 23.

Ceremony

His Majesty Felipe VI, King of Spain, accompanied by the President of the Region of

Murcia, Fernando Lopez Miras, and the Minister of Public Works, Jose Luis Abalos, led the opening ceremony at RMU. The King unveiled a commemorative plaque and Minister Abalos, commented:"I have no doubt that, thanks to AENA's experience in the management of 46 airports and the two helipads of the State [region], the International Airport Region of Murcia will be consolidated as one of the main dynamics of the regional economy and as a key element for improving your connectivity."

The first commercial flight to land was Ryanair's RYR1824,at 10.20am, from East Midlands. It received the traditional water-arch salute from the airport's fire trucks as it taxied in. More than 2,000 passengers used the airport on the opening day, thanks to 16 scheduled services (eight arrivals, eight departures), according to airport estimates. At the time of writing, flights are available to 12 European airports: Antwerp (ANR), Birmingham (BHX), Bristol (BRS), Brussels South (CRL), Dublin DUB), East Midlands (EMA), Leeds-Bradford (LBA), London - four airports: Gatwick (LGW), Luton (LTN), Southend (SEN) and Stansted (STN) - and Manchester (MAN).

Ryanair currently operates from RMU to BHX, DUB, EMA, LBA, LTN, MAN and STN, while easyJet serves BRS, LGW and SEN and TUIfly flies to ANR and CRL. The frequencies of some services are set to increase this summer and the Spanish low-cost carrier, Volotea, has announced it will start services from Asturias Airport (OVD)--on Spain's northern coast--in May. The airport reported the latter route is "especially significant" as it will give the region its first domestic connection since the former San Javier Airport's Madrid flights ended in January 2017.
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Title Annotation:MERCIA
Comment:THE 'GHOST' COMES TO LIFE: NICKNAMED 'THE GHOST' BECAUSE ITS OPENING HAS BEEN DELAYED FOR SO LONG, THE NEW MURCIA AIRPORT WAS GIVEN A ROYAL LAUNCH IN JANUARY TOM ALLETT REPORTS.(MERCIA)
Author:Allett, Tom
Publication:Airports International
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Mar 1, 2019
Words:541
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