Private jets at the general aviation terminal at Malaga Airport. / sur

Executive air travel is flying high on the Costa del Sol once more

So many travellers have arrived at Malaga Airport by private plane this summer that it has more than made up for the loss of the Russian market as a result of the war in Ukraine

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

Not only has executive air travel taken off again after the pandemic, but it is flying high and only shows signs of climbing still further. This has been a record year for tourists arriving on private planes at Malaga Airport and visitors from the Persian Gulf, northern Europe and the USA have more than made up for the loss of the Russian market as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Juan José Román of United Aviation said the volume of operations this summer had risen by 30-40 per cent compared with 2021. There were nearly 700 flight movements in July and around 800 in August at the general aviation terminal at Malaga.

“Passengers who used to travel in business class now prefer to pay a bit more and travel in an executive jet, because it saves time and is more convenient,” he said.

This means that companies are having to increase their fleets and contract more pilots, although they are not easy to find. Many Arab families had not been to their mansions in southern Spain since 2018 and were keen to get back, so demand has been extra high. This also has a knock-on effect on other sectors such as road transport (luxury transfers from the airport to the visitors' residences and hotels) and extra chauffeurs have had to be taken on.

Others who have arrived at Malaga by private plane this summer have included stars of the music world who came to perform at festivals such as the Starlite in Marbella.

Rafael Parodi of Aerodynamics Charter said the company is very satisfied with the level of business this summer and believes the increase is partly due to the pandemic, because some travellers prefer not to fly on commercial aircraft with a lot of other people to reduce the chances of catching Covid-19.

This company has one plane of its own, which has been used every day, and also manages private flights for other companies. Most of is clients are from northern Europe (British and Swedish) and the USA, although some are from Spain.

The peak season is also longer than usual in this sector, extending through September. Parodi also pointed out that there is another high season for private air travel in November and December, as people head for destinations in Austria, Switzerland and France for winter sports.