Palma.—Last year, 36.6 million people flew to Spain with low cost airlines, 1.4 percent more than during 2011 while 26.5 million flew into Spain with scheduled airlines, 3.2 percent less than the previous year.

The six main low cost destinations were the Canaries, Catalonia, Madrid, Valencia, Andalusia and the Balearics.
These six regions accounted for 96 percent of the total low cost traffic.
But, heading the list as the busiest low cost destinations were Catalonia, with a 22.6 percent share of the market and then the Balearics with its 22.2 share of the low cost passenger traffic.

In fact, these two regions were the only ones to post an increase in low cost passenger traffic of 15.1 and 4.1 percent respectively.
UK dominates
On the flip side, Madrid posted the sharpest decline in low cost traffic registering a year-on-year fall of 8.2 percent and a sharp fall of 18.5 percent during December alone.

In total, Spanish airports handled 63.1 million passengers last year, just 0.6 percent fewer than in 2011, according to a report issued by the Ministry for Tourism, Industry and Energy yesterday.

And, the year ended with the low cost sector enjoying a 58 percent share of the market with scheduled airlines a 42 percent share.
The two key markets were the United Kingdom which accounted for 13.1 million passengers followed by 7.2 million Germans, both very similar to the previous year.

The third largest market was the Italian with 3.7 million passengers, five percent fewer than in 2011 followed by the French.
2.3 million French visitors flew into Spain last year, 14 percent more than during 2011 although a significant number drove to the mainland so the overall French market was considerably larger.

The Swedish and Norwegian markets also posted positive growth figures while the Portuguese market shrunk.
Ryanair was the busiest low cost carrier last year followed by easyJet and Vueling, the latter of which will be relaunching the daily Heathrow to Palma flight from next Spring as British Airways looks to taking over 100 percent control of the Spanish low cost but full frills airline.

The airlines enjoyed a 57 percent share of the overall airline market despite Ryan air passenger figures falling by 7.5 percent and easyJet losing 9.2 percent of its passengers.

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