Budget Airlines are Gaining Passengers

Up until May, low cost airlines carried 11.6 million passengers, representing an increase of 2.5% over the same period last year, according to recent data released by the Institute of Tourism Studies under the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism.

Traditional airlines, by contrast, carried 10.4 million passengers in the first five months of the year, up 4.2% on the same period in 2012. Thus, between January and May 2013, the low cost airlines accounted for more than half of the air traffic, with 52.7%, compared to the traditional airlines, which carried 47.3% of the travellers.

The UK and German markets lead in the arrivals by low cost airlines, with 32.3% and 19% of passengers, respectively, with the British market increasing by 4.1%, to 3.7 million travellers, and the German market rising by 10.4% (to 2.2 million travellers).

Arrivals from Italy, the third source market, decreased by 16.7% to 1.1 million passengers, and represented 9.8% of the total arrivals. Next came France, with 7.1% of the total and 832,648 passengers, an increase of 2.4% over last year. After the French market stood the Netherlands, with a decrease of 13% in arrivals, at 671,000 passengers, and 5.8% of the total. Denmark registered the largest percentage increase, with 54.8% more passengers so far this year and a total of 242,972 passengers. In addition, the number of travellers from Sweden increased by 24.9% to 247,645 visitors.

The Spanish airports most used by low cost airlines so far this year, were Barcelona-El Prat, with 2.51 million passengers and an increase of 4%; Palma de Mallorca, with 1.7 million passengers and an increase of 11.2%; Malaga, with 1.38 million passengers (+10.4%) and Alicante, which received 1.2 million passengers, an increase of 11.1%.

Madrid-Barajas Airport, however, experienced a decrease in passengers of 18.5%, to 1.16 million, and Valencia airport a decrease of 3.8%, with a total of 396,691 passengers transported so far this year.

In addition, the airport which recorded the biggest rise in passenger arrivals was the airport on the island of Ibiza, with an increase of over 20% and a total of 201,329 passengers. Lanzarote also recorded a rise of 8.3%, to 370,176 passengers, and the airport of Tenerife-Sur registered an increase of 4.6%, representing a total of 734,607 passengers.

In May, the low cost airlines’ flight occupancy rates reached 81.4%, which is one percentage point higher than the previous year, and two points more than the traditional companies, which reached 78.6%.

Ryanair, easyJet and Air Berlin were the main ‘low cost’ airlines in May, together transporting 57% of all the travellers who opted for the low cost airlines. Of these, only easyJet showed an decline year-on-year.

By region, the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and the Canary Islands topped the ranking of arrivals by low cost airlines in the first five months of the year.

Catalonia headed the list, with 25.9% of arrivals and more than three million passengers, registering an increase of 4.5%. The Balearic Islands came next, with 16.7%, receiving almost two million passengers, and the Canary Islands, with 1.7 million passengers, recording a rise of 0.3%. They were followed by Andalusia, with 1.6 million passengers (+7.4%), Valencia, with 1.59 million passengers (+7%) and Madrid, with just over a million travellers (-18.5%).

In May, Diario Sur reported that the low cost airlines carried nearly 3.5 million passengers, up 8.3%, while the traditional airlines transported 2.6 million passengers, which was a rise of 0.7% over the same month of 2012.

Of the total 6.1 million passengers transported in May (up 4.9% over the previous year), 57% of the passengers chose a low cost carrier, while the remaining 43% flew to Spain with traditional companies, with a total of 2.63 million passengers, which corresponds to an increase of 0.7%.

Particularly notable in May was the increase in travellers arriving from the Scandinavian countries, with Denmark growing by 41.4%, year-on-year, and Norway by 36.3%. In addition, the UK, Germany and Italy remained the main source markets for passengers, together accounting for 64.1% of the total.