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World’s Largest Airport, now Abandoned

World's Largest Airport, now Abandoned

The airport’s construction, which cost an estimated £658 million ($860 million), was done in advance of the Euro 2012 football tournament. Donetsk Airport had served as a major hub for about 1.1 million travellers the year before, up until a disastrous outbreak of conflict between separatist insurgents from the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Ukrainian armed forces within the airport.

Passengers were served by civil aviation companies like Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, Air Berlin, Aeroflot, and flydubai. But in 2014, when the War in Donbass started, all carriers were forced to halt operations.

In May 2014, the airport saw fighting for one day, then again in September, when fighting continued for three months before Ukrainian forces retreated. The result is a decaying edifice that is pocked with bullet holes. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, its former terminals and lounges were completely destroyed, and it was once again on the front lines of the conflict.

Ciudad Real Central Airport, Spain

The major infrastructure project, which cost an eye-watering £1 billion ($1.3bn) and opened to much fanfare in 2008, was destined from the start to fail. Due to its remote location and completion during the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent recession, the hub was unable to draw enough airlines to be viable.

The final airline to run regular service to and from the airport, Vueling, ceased operations in 2011. The private airport closed a year later after declaring bankruptcy.

The airport, which was prepared to serve up to 10 million travellers annually, was essentially shut down in 2012. Since then, its main structure, lone runway, and surrounding tourist centre have all been vacant.

An unfinished walkway that was planned to link the airport to a station on the high-speed rail route between Madrid and Seville is located elsewhere in the airport. When the airport shut down, construction stopped. A sizable parking lot is also still completely deserted.

Fortunately, the disastrous ghost airport’s situation is improving. The present owners are considering using the area for tech support and flying training after a few ownership changes in the recent years and a failed attempt to rebrand as Madrid Airport South.

Ellinikon International Airport, Greece

Ellinikon International Airport in Athens was initially constructed in 1938 and served as the city’s primary airport for many years. In order to make room for the brand-new Athens International Airport, it was closed in 2001.

The Athens Olympic Games in 2004 used a portion of the airport as a site. The site’s northwest corner was utilised for baseball, field hockey, and other sports. Even a hangar at the airport was renovated to accommodate basketball games and various fencing competitions.

The former airport has been completely neglected since the Olympics. After Greece’s fiscal crisis, which essentially bankrupted the nation, an ambitious plan to turn it into a municipal park was shelved.

After serving as a temporary camp for refugees, the location was leased to a gaming development business with plans to construct a casino inside the abandoned airport. The largest urban redevelopment project in Europe has given the airport a new lease on life as Experience Park.

Yasser Arafat International Airport, Palestinian Territories

The international community provided funds for the construction of this significant international airport close to the Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Bill Clinton, the US president at the time, was present for the opening ceremony in 1998.

Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, was honoured with the airport’s name, which could accommodate up to 700,000 people annually. However, the airport was forced to close in 2001, during the Second Intifada, just a few years later.

The runway, the cutting-edge terminal building, and the air traffic control tower all suffered significant damage during an Israeli bombing assault. Israeli bulldozers quickly surrounded the area and razed much of what was still standing.

The airport, which is currently a total ruin, has been completely abandoned, and Israeli authorities have rejected offers to reconstruct the hub.

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