Nearly 50 airlines operate at the Costa del Sol’s airport, offering 12 million seats during the busiest months of the year.
It was pure chance that an airport was built in Malaga. That airport, which opened on 9 March 1919, was a stopover on the only route run by the Latècoère airline between France and its protectorate, Morocco. However the development of tourism on the Costa del Sol has resulted in it becoming the fourth most important airport in Spain, with the capacity to move 30 million passengers.
This summer season, which began in March and will continue until October, is really starting to get under way now, linking the capital of the Costa del Sol directly to 126 destinations around the world in a matter of hours.
Sources at Aena, the airport authority, say there are more flights to other Spanish destinations from Malaga this year, in line with signs of recovery in the national market, as well as a greater diversification in Europe and emerging countries and a significant increase in the number of seats to New York.
Nearly 50 airlines operate from Malaga airport, which this summer will be the third in mainland Spain and the fourth including Mallorca in terms of connections: in other words, more destinations which can be reached via direct flights. In this regard, Malaga comes behind only Madrid, Barcelona and Palma.
In Andalucía, the comparisons with other airports speak for themselves about the potential of the Malaga terminal. Seville is second in terms of direct flights, but is way behind Malaga with just 42 connections. Behind Seville comes Granada, which only operates a reduced number of flights to Barcelona, London, Madrid, Melilla, and Palma de Mallorca.
It should be noted that Aena classifies destinations as those routes on which an airline operates 30 or more flights in a season. These 126 direct connections translate as 194 routes, with about 12 million seats in total. This is about 2.1 per cent more than in the high season in 2014. In that period, 69,300 commercial flights landed and took off from Malaga, which was 1.5 per cent more than between March and October the year before.
It is worth remembering that in the summer of 2014 the airlines offered 11.5 million seats, which was an increase of five per cent. Once again the international market led the way, with 85 per cent of all traffic. There were 67,518 international fights between March and October, representing a 3.7 per cent increase in operations.
The director of the Malaga-Costa del Sol airport, Salvador Merino, is satisfied with the way things are going. “We have seen sustained growth since last year and it continued throughout the winter, which was also very good. We hope this will carry on during the summer, which for us began during the last weekend in March,” he says.
He explains that the positive figures which have been forecast for the busiest months of the year follow on from a good winter period “in which we handled 6.2 per cent more passengers and 1.1 per cent more operations, compared with the same period in the previous year.”
This year there is a new route to Saint Petersburg, which has just been introduced by the Spanish low-cost airline Vueling; this is the first time Malaga has been linked with a Russian city other than Moscow.
There are now also direct connections with Lille, Antwerp, Bordeaux, Nantes and Billund, and more flights to Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Madrid. Also, with effect from 4th June Delta Air Lines will be resuming its direct flight from Malaga to New York.
According to Aena, America is one of the most important markets for Malaga-Costa del Sol airport, and further growth is forecast in this area, with 23 per cent more seats and 28.6 per cent more flights.
“All this is topped by the best traffic figures in the history of the airport. In 2014 there were 13,749,134 passengers, which was 6.4 per cent more than in 2013, and 108,263 operations, which is 5.8 per cent more than in 2013,” explains Salvador Merino, who also points out the consolidation of the recovery in the national market.
It is precisely the good forecasts for Spanish tourism which have led to an increase of 1.7 per cent o flights and 0.7 per cent more seats to destinations within the country. These figures are even more important when we take into account the fact that the AVE high speed rail link is gaining passengers every month.
Salvador Merino explains that the figures in 2014 “not only beat the 2007 record but almost doubled the rate of growth that we saw then, and at that time there was no AVE between Malaga and Madrid. We are doubling our previous forecasts for the increase in traffic throughout the year but, above all, these increases were greatest in the winter, and that helps to combat seasonal tourism,” he says.
The fact that the Costa del Sol is such a well-established holiday destination in Europe explains the fact that 86 per cent of destinations withwhich it is linked by direct flights are on this continent. This summer, there has been a notable improvement in connections with Italy, France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Norway.
At a time when travellers choose destinations according to whether or not there are direct flights, the increase of 2.2 per cent in seats and 1.3 per cent in flights to European airports is key to attracting a greater volume of passenger traffic.
Salvador Merino says the growth at Malaga airport is sustained and constant, and that “it consolidates the principal markets and, for the first time after the fall of the last two years, suggests a recovery in the domestic market.”
The need to improve direct connections with emerging destinations such as China and the Middle East is filled at present by the Turkish Airlines route, which operates ten flights a week between Malaga and Istanbul.
“We are satisfied, but we know we have to continue working in order to improve. The airport is a living infrastructure for which we strive constantly; we work tirelessly every day to achieve the quality of service required by Aena. We are confident that we will continue along the same path of growth in traffic that we have seen so far in 2015,” says Salvador Merino.
One piece of data which supports this growth is that the airlines continue to be strongly committed to the principal international source market, the UK. This summer it accounts for 24 per cent of total routes, demonstrating its leadership as the country with the most connections to Malaga airport.
By destination, Aena says that London stands out above the rest: its remains at the top of the list as the city to which the airlines offer the most seats and the most flights.
Sources at the airport authority confirm that growth in this area is continuing, and this summer the number of seats to and from Gatwick has increased by six per cent. Malaga is flying high.
Courtesy: Sur in English
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