This week sees the opening of Alicante’s new terminal, which will help the airport (the sixth busiest in Spain on an annual basis) meet the expected growth in demand, especially during the peak summer season. Last year, the airport on Spain’s east coast serving the Costa Blanca region grew by 2.7%, exactly the same as for all airports in Spain. Between 2000 and 2008, passenger numbers grew by almost 60% before the recession in Europe took its toll on leisure traffic in 2009.
One thing that has changed significantly in recent years is the ranking of the leading airlines at the airport. Up until 2003, Iberia was the leading carrier at the airport, but in 2004, it was overtaken by easyJet. easyJet gained a presence at the airport when it took over Go, the low-cost carrier that once belonged to British Airways, in 2002. easyJet remained the leading airline at the airport until 2009. After opening a base at the airport in 2007, it took Ryanair just two years to become the leading airline, and last year it handled one-third of all passengers, making it twice as big as the next biggest carrier, fellow low-cost carrier easyJet, who saw passenger numbers fall in 2010 after the carrier dropped flights from its abandoned base at East Midlands airport in the UK.
UK remains #1 country market
The UK remains the leading country market for flights to and from Alicante. Between 2000 and 2004, the UK’s share of passengers grew from 45% to 55% as the likes of Go and easyJet helped stimulate the market previously dominated by charter airlines. However, since then, the UK’s share of the markets has declined to just 42% in 2010, although that still makes it five times bigger than any other international country market.
The airport’s international network has become more dispersed. In 2003, the top five country markets of the UK, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway accounted for 90% of traffic, but by 2010, this had fallen to just 80%, meaning that the number of passengers from outside of these top five markets had doubled from 10% to 20% in just seven years.
Traffic peaks in August; new record in 2011?
A look at monthly passenger figures since the beginning of 2008 shows a consistent seasonality profile with demand peaking in the key holiday months of July and August.
So far in 2011, passenger numbers are up 3% in January and 3.5% in February, suggesting that the airport may be on course to beat its previous annual record and may even exceed 10 million passengers for the first time, assuming that summer flights are not disrupted by industrial action either at the airport, or from air traffic control services.
Ryanair leads new route growth in 2010 and 2011
Despite modest growth of under 3% in 2010, the airport welcomed a host of new services, primarily from low-cost carriers, and in particular Ryanair as it continued to expand its presence at the airport.
|Airline||Destination (Service start date in 2010)|
|airberlin||Zurich (5 November)|
|City Airline||Gothenburg (30 March)|
|Norwegian||Oslo Torp (6 November)|
|Ryanair||Altenburg/Leipzig (31 March), Cork (1 June), Kerry (3 March), Krakow (30 March), Norrköping (2 May), Poznan (3 May), Seville (1 March), Stockholm Västerås (2 April), Valladolid (1 April), Växjö (1 April), Venice Treviso (2 March)|
|S7||Moscow Domodedovo (1 May)|
|Spanair||Algiers (3 April)|
|Wizz Air||Cluj Napoca (24 July)|
|Source: anna.aero new route database|
So far for 2011, new services from the UK seem to be leading the way, with Jet2.com revealing plans to start low-frequency flights from four of its UK bases this summer, while Ryanair is adding new services from Humberside and Manchester.
|Icelandair||Reykjavik (14 April)|
|Jet2.com||Belfast International (27 June), East Midlands (12 May), Glasgow (31 March), Newcastle (1 April)|
|Norwegian||Helsinki (14 May)|
|Ryanair||Brno (16 April), Humberside (12 April), Kaunas (28 March), Magdeburg/Cochstedt (1 April), Manchester (13 April), Tampere (27 March)|
|Vueling||Amsterdam (28 March)|
|Wizz Air||Bucharest Baneasa (29 March)|
|Source: anna.aero new route database|
Other LCCs adding services this summer include Norwegian, Vueling and Wizz Air, while Icelandair is the only non-LCC to be adding a new service, from Reykjavik.