The statistics regarding activity at Malaga airport are the best way of gauging how tourism is evolving, and that in turn is a sign of the state of health of the province’s principal industry. The busy month of October, when the number of passengers increased by 19.6 per cent, showed that this infrastructure is growing in leaps and bounds: last month the airport was used by nearly 400,000 travellers more than in the same month last year, and that was already a record.
However, it is the demand for international flights that has resulted in the airport registering 15 million passengers in a year for the first time in its history this week. If this trend continues in November and December, when more than 1.6 million people are expected to travel, the airport could end the year with over 16 million passengers.
Figures supplied by the Aena airport authority show that in the first ten months of this year 14,795,029 people passed through Malaga airport, which was an increase of 15.1 per cent compared with the same period last year.
The figure is even more remarkable considering that it is an increase of nearly two million since October 2015. Looking back further, the volume of passengers so far this year shows an increase of 3.2 million since 2013. This is a huge leap and the strength of Malaga as a tourist destination for visitors from abroad has contributed to the positive figures.
The level of growth at Malaga airport has been double that of other airports in Spain. In October the figures were similar to the busiest months on the Costa del Sol: there were more passengers than in June and the numbers were similar to those in September.
Sources at Aena attribute this to international demand, because last month there was a 21 per cent increase in passengers and flights to and from abroad, compared with an increase of 9.5 per cent in flights between Spanish cities. Specifically, in October 1,711,802 passengers travelled on 12,095 flights. In percentage terms, Malaga airport handled 19.6 per cent more passengers and 18.1 per cent more operations. Of the passengers, 1.5 million travelled on international flights. Never before have there been 1.5 million passengers in the month of October.
At Aena, sources explain that the UK remains the principal destination from Malaga airport, with 584,100 passengers travelling to that country; this was about 20.8 per cent more than in October 2015. The second highest number of passengers were travelling to Spanish airports. Germany, with 167,625 passengers, and France with 108,189 maintained their position as the next most popular destinations in October.
This activity has been a key factor in the programming of 108,230 flights in the first ten months of this year, an increase of 12.7 per cent. The volume of passengers and number of operations have risen throughout the year, by double digits each month.
By handling 15 million passengers, the airport is half way to maximum capacity, which with the construction of Terminal 3 rose to 30 million passengers a year and 600 flights a day. Two Saturdays last month were the busiest of all at the airport: on 1 October there were 68,752 passengers, and on Saturday 22nd the number of operations reached a peak, with 467 landings and departures.