STAFF REPORTER

MADRID/PALMA
THE number of passengers using Balearic airports - Palma, Mahon and Ibiza - fell in January by 6.6 percent in comparison with the same month in 2009, Central Government's ministry for Tourism said yesterday.

In the case of Palma airport, said a spokesman, the year-on-year decline has been by 7 percent.
Separately, the ministry reported that the number of international passengers arriving at Spanish airports on low cost flights in January increased for the third month running. Figures were up by 1.9 percent in comparison with the same month in 2009 to reach 1.5 million passengers.

Also up in January - by 1.5 percent - were the number of people using regular airlines. Some 1.6 million passengers meant that this sector of the air travel market claims a 51.6 percent share of the total with the remainder going to low cost companies.

Overall, the number of international passengers opting to visit Spain by air rose in January by 1.7 percent to reach 3.1 million.
Results also showed that the occupancy rate of low cost flights rose by 68.9 percent, 3.5 percent more than the growth experienced by regular airlines.

Ryanair, Easyjet and Air Berlin remain the principal low cost companies operating in Spain. However, whilst January figures rose this year for Ryanair and Easyjet in comparison with 2009, Air Berlin experienced some loss.

Madrid, Valencia and the Canary Islands had more foreign visitors by air than in 2009 with a notable upturn of 29 percent of activity at Barajas airport in Madrid.

By way of contrast, Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands suffered a decline in overseas visitor numbers by 3.6, 2.8 and 6.6 percent respectively. Gerona registered a 12.4 percent year-on-year loss in January this year and Palma de Majorca, 7 percent.