The Spanish airline industry may well be worried about its future, but flag carrier Iberia and the Majorca-based airline Spanair, according to the Association of European Airlines, have been the least affected by the fall out from September 11. Last month, airline passenger figures in Europe dropped by 19.6 per cent, while Iberia registered just a 2.5 per cent fall and Spanair an increase of 1.3 per cent. In its latest reports, the association says that three months on from September 11 “European passenger traffic loads are still very low.” Passenger figures last month did however start to show an improvement on October. In October, passenger figures dropped by 21.1 per cent, Belgian airline Sabena went bust with passenger figures tumbling by nearly 90 per cent. Swissair reported a 56.6 per cent fall in passengers and Alitalia 33.3 per cent. By comparison, Spain's airlines are managing to ride the current crisis. Spanair has reduced capacity by 12.6 per cent while Iberia has actually increased capacity by just over three per cent with European airlines on the whole having reduced capacity by an average of 14.1 per cent. All of the airlines in Spain have taken steps to reduce operating costs, Air Europa grounded its city hopper fleet and Iberia is still negotiating a cut in its work force with some of the jobs set to be lost in the Balearics, but it appears that the bulk of the local airline industry is managing to survive the crisis. However, the industry, with the support of the association, is fighting central government over a proposed increase in airport taxes next year which will undo all the good work done by the airlines in the wake of September 11.


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