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A Brief History of Ibiza Airport

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For many visitors, the most enjoyable first sight after arriving in Ibiza was walking out of arrivals to see the gigantic ‘Eivissa’ sign. Many see the sign as a sign that your journey to paradise is over and a reminder of the joys to come. The signs popular glowing letters of recent years have sadly been replaced, in favour of a more professional looking notice. The sentiment of what it means to travellers however, is probably still as highly regarded as it ever was. Situated close to the southern tip of the island, newcomers should be aware that a transfer is necessary to take you to your final destination.

The airport in Ibiza was unsurprisingly not always an exit route for the pre-tourism islanders. It was built in the late 1930’s, solely as a temporary military airbase during the Spanish Civil War. The later necessity for Ibiza’s thriving tourism industry was unknown. Even after the war the airbase was largely unused, kept as an emergency landing space for any aircraft that was unfortunate enough to need it. It is difficult to comprehend of a passenger have ever being classed as unlucky to land in Ibiza!

In 1949, the aftermath and confusion of the Spanish involvement in World War 2 began to wear off. Ibiza was finally recognised as a destination worthy of landing aircrafts on, and the airbase started to operate a small amount of international flights, along with flights back and forth from the mainland. The island was still not a haven for tourists at this stage, Pacha was another 24 years away, thus the need for flights was deemed unnecessary and the airbase was closed in 1951. Seven years in later in 1958, the huge increase in interest in the Balearic Islands as a holiday resort, encouraged the airport to once again open its doors. The work needed on the airport to transform it from an emergency airbase into a regular operative airport was a big job. The rush to complete it to begin allowing tourists in, was to turn out to be one of the biggest milestones in the islands history. It was also perhaps the first sign of the island’s pre-tourist maintenance that each year since, tends to be left to the last minute.

During the next 3 decades, the island gave itself to the rest of the world and tourism became the island’s goldmine. Clubs opened, beaches were even manufactured and the music began to play. In the 1990’s more runways were built, roads were added and terminals designed; that would be able to cope with the number of people looking for a short stay on the island. The birth of DC-10 and Bora Bora, magnified the importance of landing in Ibiza in a more special way. In the last decade of the millennium, over 3.6 visitors have landed in Ibiza airport each year. Another decade on, and the number has nearly doubled. In 2012 over 5.5 million guests passed through arrivals. The world fell in love with Ibiza and the party just keeps growing.

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