Spanish airport traffic down 18.2% in Q1 2009; only Reus and Santander report growth

Image: Edward Wilson, Ryanair’s Director of Personnel at Reus
Among smaller Spanish airports only one has reported significant growth – Reus, which Ryanair made a base last November. Ryanair’s Eddie Wilson, was on hand to lead the celebrations. (Why is your shirt tucked in your pants Eddie?)

Among major EU member states it appears that air travel demand has been most severely impacted in Spain, which reflects the tough economic situation facing the country at present. During the first quarter of 2009 Spain’s airports reported an 18.2% decline in passenger numbers and a 15.2% reduction in commercial aircraft movements.

Chart: Demand at top Spanish mainland airports
Source: AENA

Even Ryanair’s Girona base has not escaped the reality of reduced demand. Among the top eight mainland airports traffic has fallen by between 15% and 25% at each of the airports in each of the first three months of 2009, with the exception of Valencia. The axing of Valencia as a Ryanair base has resulted in the airport reporting passenger numbers down over 30% compared with the first quarter of 2008.

Chart: Top 15 Spanish Airports
Source: AENA

Among Spain’s top 15 airports the least worst performance during Q1 was reported by Tenerife Norte where demand was down just under 10%. Among smaller Spanish airports only one has reported significant growth, Reus. Thanks to a raft of new Ryanair services passenger numbers at Reus more than doubled in the first quarter of 2009 to just over 168,000. The only other airport reporting growth was Santander (in Northern Spain) where traffic was up 8% to almost 200,000.

Rail now taking around 40% of Barcelona – Madrid air market

The latest data from AENA indicates that the one-year-old high-speed rail (HSR) service between Madrid and Barcelona has reduced air travel demand between the two cities by around 40%. In 2007 the route carried almost five million passengers. Last year the figure fell to 3.66 million after services began in March.

Chart: Madrid - Barcelona air passengers
Source: AENA

In the first two months of 2009 year-on-year demand was down over 40% though given the general state of air travel demand in Spain at present not all of that decline can be attributed to the HSR service. In March the decline fell to just over 20% but this reflects the fact that the rail service began last March when traffic fell 22%.


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