By Humphrey Carter
PALMA'S Son San Joan airport handled a record 2.725.157 passengers during the first three months of this year, 11 percent more than the first quarter of 2003 Passengers figures from the UK, Spain and Germany also rose, but the biggest rise has been in the number of Germans using Palma airport.
This is primarily because of the increase in connecting flights being operated by German airlines in and out of Son San Joan's new “hub.” Last month, however, it was the number of domestic passengers from the mainland which rose sharply by 15 percent. Last month 507.435 Spaniards flew in and out of Palma airport, 15 percent up on March last year along with 134.386 Britons. In total, 1.147.401 passengers used Palma airport last month, some 86'000 more passengers than during March the previous year.
Across Spain, airports have reported similar increases in passenger figures.
Spanish airport authority AENA reported yesterday that, in general, passengers figures are up by 10 percent across the country.
AENA also confirmed that apart from the increase in passengers at Palma airport, air traffic is rising fast.
During the first quarter, air traffic control handled 29.645 flights, 7'74 percent more than during the same period last year. Son San Joan airport remains the third busiest in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona.

So far this year it is busier than the Canary Islands which have reported a 2'3 percent fall in passenger traffic while Malaga, the fifth busiest, has so far handled 2.1 percent more passengers than during the first quarter of last year. The steady rise in passengers at Palma airport is forecast to continue as the summer approaches.
What is saving Son San Joan is the growing German hub which has been set up for connecting flights.
This means the airport is no longer only handling travellers coming to Majorca, but also tourists on their way to other destinations in Spain, Portugal and North Africa.

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