Malaga Airport welcomes first visitors as Spain's borders reopen

A couple is reunited at Malaga Airport on Sunday.
A couple is reunited at Malaga Airport on Sunday. / Ñito Salas
  • Just 30 flights operated in and out of the airport on the first day following the end of the state of alarm but bosses are confident that 75 per cent of routes will return for July

After 99 days under the state of alarm, Spain's borders with the European Union (including the UK, but not Portugal) reopened on Sunday, bringing with it the arrival of foreign tourists, vital to the Costa del Sol's economy.

On Sunday about thirty flights went in and out of Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, half of which were international - a far cry from the around 400 regularly seen at this time last year.

The first two arrived within 15 minutes of each other: the first, from Düsseldorf (Germany) at 10.15am, and the second at 10.30am from Eindhoven (the Netherlands).

Residential tourists

Neither flight was full: "Fifty per cent more or less", explained Herman Jacobs, a Belgian who has a company and a house in Alcaucín. He loves "the tranquility" of rural life in Spain and couldn't wait any longer to return.

Nor could José Luis Sedán, from Cordoba, and Maria Drue, from Germany. "We live in Germany but we have a house in Cordoba and since we retired we've been spending a few months in Spain with the family every year. We wanted to come in May but we haven't been able to until now", he explained. "Are we scared? Not at all."

The planes that landed on the Costa del Sol on Sunday were mostly occupied by residential tourists and people travelling for family, work or business reasons. All travellers arriving from abroad reported having to have their temperature checked and filling out a questionnaire which asked if they had had coronavirus and to provide contact details.

Hope for July

Sunday was the first, major step towards getting the destination back on track. Despite the low numbers, the airport's management expects that 75 per cent of the routes operated last summer (235) will return for July, albeit with fewer daily connections - some 100 flights a day.

Police direct tourists to the taxi rank.

Police direct tourists to the taxi rank. / Ñito Salas

For the period until then, though, airport bosses are reluctant to predict flight volume, given the recent unpredictable nature of airlines' decisions.

However, as flight and passenger numbers increase, the airport's shops, bars, restaurants and other services, all currently closed, will gradually reopen.

Returning airlines

Several operators have committed to the destination from July. Ryanair, the leading airline in terms of passenger numbers at Malaga Airport, plans to run 69 routes between Malaga and Europe this summer. Norwegian will resume its routes from Malaga to Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm, while Air France will return to Malaga Airport from 5 July.

Easyjet and KLM also plan to return: the first will connect the Costa del Sol with 17 European destinations and the second will offer eight weekly flights to Amsterdam, the airport's fifth largest operator, will link nine British cities from 1 July. Lufthansa has also included Malaga in its first plans to resume flights, as have Brussels Airlines and Alitalia.

For its part, Air Nostrum has scheduled three weekly connection to Nice from 17 July to 13 September.