Ryanair and easyJet aircraft at Malaga Airport. Salvador Salas
These three budget airlines accounted for almost half of the 22.3 million passengers at Malaga Airport last year

These three budget airlines accounted for almost half of the 22.3 million passengers at Malaga Airport last year

The low-cost carriers moved 47.4% of the passenger volume registered in 2023, which was an unprecedented year for the tourism sector on the Costa del Sol

Pilar Martínez


Monday, 6 May 2024, 13:51


Malaga Airport has not stopped breaking records since the start of the year, continuing the trend of 2023, which saw the highest number of people pass through its terminals in 12 months.

The boom is helped by the more than 50 airlines that are betting on the Costa del Sol destination, but which are the ones carrying the most passengers? According to airport operator Aena's 2023 statistics, just three low-cost airlines were responsible for almost half of the passengers in an unprecedented year that registered 22.3 million visitors.

Specifically, Ryanair, Vueling and easyJet are the main players, accounting for 47.4% (10.5 million) of the passengers who passed through Malaga Airport's arrival gates last year. The figure, when compared to 2022 data, shows these airlines have gained market share.

The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair is the undisputed leader with more than 6.5 million passengers, almost three out of ten of those who arrived or departed from Malaga Airport last year. The airline maintains an unwavering upward trend that has led it to operate both in low and high season.

Ryanair country manager for Spain and Portugal, Elena Cabrera, said Malaga is the only airport in Spain where it has increased the number of aircraft based this summer at the facility by three, from 13 to 16. Ryanair will link the Costa del Sol with 89 cities in Europe and North Africa, of the 136 in total that will be connected to Malaga Airport with direct flights. "Malaga is a safe bet for the company. We operate very well at this airport and the proof of this is that we are putting in three more planes. In the last three years, there has never been an increase like this," Cabrera said. The number of seats offered from the end of March to October this year will be 5.3 million, 19% more than the same period in 2023, she added.

A Spanish airline, in second place

Ryanair is followed by the Spanish low-cost airline Vueling, which in 2023 handled 2.8 million passengers, almost half a million more than the previous year. In fact, a few days ago it paid tribute to the company's 25 millionth passenger at this airport, where it began operating on 1 April 2005. Vueling's network director Jordi Pla said: "since then, we have played a crucial role in the development of the airport, with Malaga being one of the key areas in Vueling's commitment to providing connectivity and supporting quality tourism in the region". The airline is currently the leading company in domestic passenger flights on the Costa del Sol, with a market share of 12.7% and six aircraft based on the Costa del Sol "is the leader in the domestic market in these airport facilities with a share of 42% in 2023", he added. The airline also managed more than 16,000 flights last year. "Since 2005, Vueling has operated more than 160,000 flights to and from Malaga," Pla said.

The third most important airline in Malaga is British company easyJet with almost 1.2 million passengers, that is 200,000 more than in 2022. The airline has programmed 7.6% more seats to fly to and from the Costa del Sol for the high season this year, for which they are offering 1.9 million seats. "The airline continues with its strategy of sustained growth in Malaga, which is also reflected in the expansion of its route network. EasyJet is expanding its range of destinations from the Andalusian city from 15 to 19," the company added.

Only two national flag carriers in a Top 10 where five airlines account for 55% of all travellers

The Aena statistics show that Malaga Airport has a high concentration of passengers travelling in the hands of just a few airlines, with the common denominator of being low-cost. In fact, only five of them account for 55% of the passengers who arrived and departed from Costa del Sol last year. To the three already mentioned, we must add the British company, with almost 900,000 passengers, and the Norwegian company Norwegian, with more than 862,000 passengers after climbing two places last year. In addition, this infrastructure stands out for its higher share of business than the average of the Aena network of low-cost airlines. It is enough to point out that in the Top 10 of airlines with the most passengers at Malaga Airport there are only two of the so-called national flag carriers. These are Scandinavian and Aer Lingus. The statistics also show that Malaga Airport is one of the most attractive for airlines, with 58 airlines with more than 10,000 passengers per year. This Top 10 is made up of Ryanair, Vueling, easyJet,, Norwegian, Easyjet Europe, Transavia, Eurowings, Aer Lingus and Scandinavian. Of the Spanish airlines, Air Europa is in eleventh place and Air Nostrum and Iberia Express, in 17th and 18th. These airlines are preparing another record summer with the 20 million seats they offer to connect Malaga province with 136 cities around the world.

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