Malaga is the third airport in the Peninsular with the most direct air links after Madrid and Barcelona. Even in the low season, with 35 per cent of hotel accommodation closed, passengers can still fly direct between Malaga and 74 destinations.
Madrid’s Barajas and Barcelona’s Prat airports have direct links with 154 and 144 destinations respectively, while island airport Gran_Canaria is also ahead of Malaga on a nationwide scale, with 93 direct connections, according to figures released by the airport authority, Aena.
Malaga, however, is way ahead of next-placed Valencia, with 44 links, as well as the other Andalusian airports. Seville operates direct flights to 31 destinations, Almeria has six links, Granada four and Jerez three.
During this winter season, Malaga airport has maintained links with 24 airports in the UK, the most important market by far for tourism on the Costa del Sol.
However there are few airports outside the European Union that can be reached directly from Malaga. Apart from destinations in Norway and Switzerland, the only other non-EU airports are those in Morocco, Turkey and Russia.
The good news is that Turkish Airlines operates the link between Malaga and Istanbul all year round which acts as a gateway to a large number of connections to cities in Asia and the Middle East.
Attempts to maintain a direct flight to New York all year round and not just in the summer season have so far been in vain. For the local industry this link is the only way to boost off-season tourism attracting more American visitors in search of winter sunshine.
Airport figures released this week by Aena show that while passenger numbers have fallen in general, Malaga has fared better than other Spanish airports.
November’s figures were down 3.4 per cent in Malaga, with a total number of 646,301 passengers passing through the airport.
However the total drop in Spain as a whole was nearly ten per cent, with Madrid Barajas losing 13.3 per cent of its passengers and El Prat and Gran Canaria falling by around eight per cent.
The figures for 2012 as a whole reveal that between January and November passenger numbers fell in Malaga by 1.8 per cent with a total for the eleven month period of just over 12 million (12,000,679).
These passengers have travelled on 96,755 flights, down 4.6 per cent on the same eleven-month period of 2011.
Nevertheless the total number of flights operated in Spain Between January and November was down almost ten per cent, with just 1.8 million landings and take-offs.
The decline at Madrid’s Barajas airport was again above the country’s average, with 12.7 per cent fewer operations.
Taking all of Andalucía’s airports into account, in the first eleven months of this year some 18,299,878 passengers were registered, 5.6 per cent down on 2011.
In November 1,047,753 passengers used Andalusian airports, arriving or departing on 13,938 flights.