Palma.—The 7.8 million international low cost airline passengers handled by the Balearics's three airports last year accounted for a 22 percent share of the national market and further growth is forecast for 2012, according to the Ministry for Industry, Energy and Tourism yesterday. 2011 witnessed an eleven percent increase in low cost passengers flying to the Balearics making the region Spain's number one low cost airline destination.

But, as further proof that tourism did pick up last year, there was an increase in both low cost and scheduled airline passengers flying to Spain - although the low cost sector does appear to have taken control of the market.

At a national level, Spain's airports handled 36.1 million low cost passengers, 12.5 percent more than in 2010 and a 57 percent share of the market.
Nevertheless, scheduled airlines carried 27.4 million passengers, nearly eight percent more than during 2010.
But, the dominant market is the United Kingdom.
13 million people flew into Spain from the UK last year, a year-on-year increase of 9.5 percent and nearly double the 7.2 million German low cost passengers, which was only five percent up on 2010's figures.

The biggest growth market, although it still has plenty of room for further development, was the French one which posted a 27 percent increase in low cost passengers followed by Rumania with a rise in numbers of 26 percent compared to 2010 and Portugal which reported a 22 percent increase.

The Italian market also expanded by 15 percent with 3.2 million Italians using a low cost carrier to come to Spain. And, obviously, Palma's Son San Joan airport was the busiest low cost terminal in the Balearics and Spain handling a total of 6.1 million international passengers, 11 percent more than during 2010.

And, with Ryanair currently establishing a new base in Palma with flights taking off towards the end of March and the government promising cuts in airport operating costs, low cost traffic is going to continue rising in Palma.

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