Spanish airport traffic down 5% in Q3 2008;
MAD-BCN air traffic down 35% due to HSR

After a strong first quarter (which included the earlier-than-usual Easter), Spain’s airports had a tough second quarter with traffic down in both April and June. In the third quarter airport traffic has fallen 3.7% in July, 2.5% in August and 8.9% in September. Both Barcelona and Malaga reported double-digit drops in passenger numbers last month and even Madrid was down 9.8%.

Chart: Demand at top Spanish mainland airports
Source: AENA

Even Girona’s recent rapid growth rate has fallen to around 10% in the third quarter, while Alicante and Valencia, despite being new Ryanair bases, experienced little growth in September.

Chart: Top 15 Spanish Airports
Source: AENA

Among the top 15 Spanish airports seven airports saw traffic fall in the first nine months of the year. In the first half of 2008 only two airports had reported a reduction in passenger numbers among the leading airports.

The only Spanish airports still reporting double-digit year-to-date growth are Zaragoza (+19.3%), Girona (+19.1%) and Santander (+14.0%). Airports reporting the biggest fall in year-to-date traffic are Vitoria (-65.0%), Leon (-18.5%), Jerez (-13.6%) and Almeria (-10.5%). The recent demise of Spanish regional airline Lagunair will be further bad news for Leon airport.

Rail now taking around 35% of Barcelona – Madrid air market

The latest data from AENA indicates that the new high-speed rail (HSR) service between Madrid and Barcelona has reduced air travel demand between the two cities by around 35%. In 2007 the route carried almost five million passengers. This year the figure is likely to fall to around 3.5 million.

Chart: Madrid - Barcelona air passengers
Source: AENA

In September air traffic on the route was down almost 40%, though given the general state of air travel demand in Spain at present not all of that can decline can be attributed to competition from HSR.


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