Budget Airlines Account for Over Half the Air Traffic

Low cost airlines carried 8.1 million passengers up to the end of April, representing an increase of 0.2% over the same period last year, according to data released on Thursday by the Institute of Tourism Studies (IET) for the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism.

In contrast, traditional airline companies carried 7.8 million passengers in the first four months of the year, which is 5.8% less than in the same period of 2012.

These figures indicate that, between January and April 2013, the low cost airlines accounted for more than half of the air traffic, with 51%, compared to the traditional airlines, who carried 49% of travellers.

The UK and Germany were the main markets choosing to travel with the low cost airlines, with 30.7% and 18.6% of passengers, respectively, with the British market remaining basically stable, with 2.5 million passengers, and the number of German passengers rising by 7.6% (to 1.5 million).

Arrivals from Italy, the third source market, dropped by 18% to 861,924 travellers, representing 10.6% of the total arrivals by low cost airlines. France was next, with 7.4% of the total arrivals and 603,018 passengers, which is 0.8% more than last year.

Following France is the Netherlands, with a drop of 3.6% in arrivals, and a total of 468,435 passengers, representing 5.7% of the total.

The largest percentage increase was in Denmark, with 60.4% more arrivals so far this year representing a total of 178,197 passengers. In addition, the number of arrivals from Norway increased by 34.2% to 234,034 visitors.

In the first four months of the year, Catalonia, the Canary Islands and Andalusia received most of the arrivals via low cost airlines. Catalonia was first in the ranking, with 26.4% of arrivals and more than 2.1 million passengers, following an unprecedented increase of 2.4%. The Canary Islands were next, with 17.7%, and 1.4 million visitors, then Andalusia, with 1.1 million arrivals, recording an increase of 5.8%.

They were followed by Valencia, with 1.1 million passengers (+4.6%); the Balearic Islands, with a little more than a million passengers (+8.8%), and then Madrid, with 906,326 passengers (-19%).

So far this year, the Spanish airports most used by low cost airlines were Barcelona-El Prat, with 1.82 million travellers and an increase of 1.6%; Palma de Mallorca, with 972,439 passengers and a rise of 8.9%, and Malaga, with 948,348 passengers, up 9.1%.

Madrid-Barajas came next, receiving 906,326 travellers, which was a decrease of 19%, and Alicante, which experienced an increase of 8.6%, with 832,338 passengers. Tenerife-South followed, with an increase of 3.9%, to 597,712 passengers.

Closing the first four months in negative figures were the airports of Gran Canaria, with 368,369 travellers (-0.6%), Valencia, with 291,023 passengers (-5.4%) and Girona-Costa Brava, with a decrease of 0.4%, to 269,176 passengers.

In April, the low cost airlines carried 2.8 million passengers, which is an increase of 1.2%, while the traditional airlines carried 2.1 million passengers, representing a drop of 8.1% compared to the same month of 2012.

According to El Mundo, last month, the occupancy rate of low cost airlines’ flights reached 78%, similar to April 2012, while that of the traditional airlines dropped by two percentage points (75.9%).

Ryanair, easyJet and Vueling were the main ‘low cost’ airlines in the fourth month of 2013, together transporting 64.8% of all travellers who opted for the low cost carriers. Both the Irish and the Catalan companies, especially the Catalan, increased their figures from a year ago.

In April, the UK, Germany and Italy remained the main sources of low cost passengers, together accounting for 60.6% of the total.