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Spanish traffic down 40% in September; Tenerife TFN leads recovery rankings with 83%

mirador-lanceSeptember passenger data for Spanish airports, published recently by Aena, shows that the country’s airports handled 16.32m passengers last month. That is three times as many as in September 2020 (5.46m), but still 40% fewer than in September 2019 (27.14m). In August, the airports had welcomed 18.01m passengers which was 39% down on the same month in 2019 (29.48m). The fact that the percentage decline versus 2019 has worsened in September compared with August is not a good sign.

While Madrid and Barcelona continue to be Spain’s two busiest airports, in terms of recovery rate they rank bottom among the top 15 airports at only just over 50%. The airport with the highest recovery rate of over 83% is Tenerife TFN, which has the highest ratio of domestic to international travellers of any of the major airports in Spain. If we break down Spain’s airports into their geographic regions, then we can see that the average rate of recovery among the airports varies significantly:

  • Major airports in mainland Spain (shown in purple): 61.3%
  • Major airports in the Balearic Islands (shown in red): 71.0%
  • Major airports in the Canary Islands (shown in orange): 73.6%

Among airports just outside the top 15, Asturias (17th) and Santiago de Compostela (16th) have also both recovered just over 80% of their 2019 traffic in September.

Load factors down around 15 percentage points

While passenger demand fell by 40% in September, analysis of Cirium Data and Analytics schedule information indicates that capacity was down only 28% compared with 2019. This confirms that airline passenger load factors are still a long way from where they were in 2019. Cross-referencing passenger data with capacity data suggests that passenger load factors have fallen from close to 90% in September 2019 to around 75% in September 2021.

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Capacity data for October currently shows a 24% reduction compared with 2019, four percentage points better than in September. However, that could still change a little in the next couple of weeks. With UK travel restrictions easing still further in time for the school half-term holiday, there may be a surge in UK travel to Spain’s more leisure-oriented destinations. It will be interesting to see if the impact of this will be discernible in October’s traffic data.

Top 15 Spanish airports in September 2021

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