Sunday, August 24, 2014

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Barcelona El Prat airport exceeds 4 million passengers in one month for the first time ever

Alicante-Elche's and Palma de Mallorca's airports improved its figures in July for the fourth month in a row in both cases
This July, Barcelona El Prat Airport broke a new record by surpassing 4 million passengers in one month for the first time ever. 4,027,585 travellers passed through the main Catalan airport last month, an increase of 4.9% from July 2013, according to Aena, the public body that owns and operates the majority of airports in Spain. This makes Barcelona's airport the second busiest in Spain, only just beaten by Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, which registered 37,831 passengers more than El Prat this July, a total of 4,065,416. There has also been good news from Girona Costa Brava Airport, 100km north of Barcelona, which has reported a 5.5% growth in aeroplane capacity utilisation this year, despite the falling passengers numbers overall. The amount of airport passengers in Spain as a whole has now increased for the 9th consecutive month in a row and represents a 4% rise in the number of travellers from this time last year.  
This is the first time Barcelona El Prat has managed to achieve over 4 million passengers in one month, as the previous record was broken in August 2013 when 3.9 million travellers passed through Catalonia's main airport. This represents an annual increase of 4.9%, whilst the cumulative growth from 2014 stood at 6.5%, with a total of 21,261,217 passengers between January and July.
The biggest increase was from travellers on flights within the European Union, an 8.8% rise compared to July 2013. This was followed by users of international flights from countries that are not part of the EU, which have increased by 2.6%. However, in contrary to these figures, the number of domestic passengers has dropped by 0.6%.
During July 2014, 29,191 take-offs and landings took place at Barcelona El Prat Airport, 4% more than during the same month of last year. This statistic was only exceeded in July 2008, when 29,733 flights passed through the Catalan airport. On the 11th of July 2014, 1,018 flights were recorded to have used El Prat's runways, a figure which had not been reached since 2008. The total number of flights from January to July 2014 totalled 164,295, which is a 2.6% increase from the same period last year.
Cargo transportation figures also rise
The aeroplanes passing through Barcelona El Prat airport this July have transported 9,061,624 kilos of cargo, representing an increase of 9% compared to July 2013. There was a 12.6% increase in cargo transportation from flights which do not come from the European Union and a 7.7% rise in the cargo from the EU. The total amount of cargo transported through El Prat this year is 59,418,410 kilos, a 4.1% increase from 2013.
Hot on the heels of Madrid-Barajas airport
Barcelona El Prat is currently the second busiest airport in Spain in terms of passenger numbers, only just beaten by Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, which recorded just 37,831 passengers more than Barcelona's, a total of 4,065,416. This is a 4.8% increase from July last year and the 6thconsecutive month that Madrid-Barajas has seen an increase in the number of passengers.
The third busiest airport in July was Palma de Mallorca, which recorded 3,451,911 million passengers, 1.8% more than the same month last year. In Spain as a whole, passenger numbers have grown for the 9th consecutive month, a 4% increase in respect to June 2013. The total number of passengers that have passed through the country's airports is 21,905,338, and of these nearly three-quarters, or 15,754,224 people, were international passengers.
The Madrid-Barcelona airport rivalry
These figures come after a long-standing controversy in which AENA, the Spanish Airport Authority which owns and manages the majority of Spanish airports, has repeatedly given Madrid Barajas Airport more funding than Barcelona El Prat Airport for decades. This is in order to convert Madrid Barajas into an international airline hub, particularly for intercontinental flights to South America, a role which many argue El Prat could fill just as effectively. In addition, the partially state-owned airline, Iberia, took the decision to concentrate all its intercontinental flights in Madrid and therefore stop most of its international routes to Barcelona, a change that many feared could damage business at El Prat. On top of this the Spanish Government obliged some foreign airlines to sign an agreement stating they would only operate from Madrid Barajas if they wanted to land in Spain.
However, in the last few years there has been a great effort to change the situation and consolidate Barcelona El Prat Airport as an important intercontinental flight centre. There are signs that these efforts have paid off as intercontinental and international flights have increased dramatically over the past few years and passenger figures and statistics have started to reach Madrid Barajas' levels. In fact, in August 2013, Barcelona El Prat overtook Madrid Barajas for the first time in monthly figures, although in September Madrid took back the leadership. However, there is still great room to improve the situation, particularly for transfer passengers.
Things start looking up for Girona Costa Brava Airport
After months of falling passenger numbers, another Catalonian airport, Girona Costa Brava, located around 100km north of Barcelona, has finally been able to announce some positive statistics. It has reported that since January 2014, 80% of the potential capacity on Girona's aircrafts has been filled, a 5.5% improvement from the same period last year. Furthermore, there has been growth in the number of travellers on all the major airlines operating in Girona Airport, apart from Ryanair. Between them, the airlines have witnessed an 11% growth between January and May and are increasing operations by 9.5%.
This comes after the dismal news that Girona Airport experienced a 23% fall in passenger numbers during the first half of 2014 and a 25.2% decrease in the number of flights passing through the airport in June due to Ryanair's dramatic decrease of flights from this airport. In addition, these figures are predicted to worsen in the next six months as Ryanair, the airport's principal airline, is planning to cut the number of flights down to just 14 destinations during the winter season.
However, in the longer term there might be some hope for Girona Costa Brava Airport. Firstly, Ryanair has recently announced that it is buying 175 new aeroplanes to add to its current fleet of 300, with the hope of transporting up to 112 million passengers by 2019. Furthermore, Girona Airport has the advantage that it is far cheaper than El Prat, proving to be around half the cost for airlines to fly to that city than to Barcelona's main airport. Finally, the Spanish Government has recently announced plans to freeze airport tax during the next ten years, which is sure to be a key selling-point for Spanish airports in the next decade.
Palma and Alicante also beat records
Alicante-Elche’s airport registered a new historical mark during the month of July, which exceeded 1,200,000 passengers. Specifically, in July more than 1.2 million passengers were recorded, representing an increase of 2.3% compared to June. This is the fourth consecutive month that the airport increases the number of passengers.
Palma de Mallorca’s airport is also increasing its number of passengers for the fourth month in a row. The main airport in the Balear Islands increased in July by 1.8 percent the number of passengers compared to the same month last year, a total of 3,451,911 passengers.

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