THE number of low cost airline passengers arriving at Spanish airports last month fell by 10.7 percent in comparison with April 2009, the Institute for Tourist Studies said yesterday.

Of the 2.2 million foreign travellers arriving across the country last month, the Balearics was the second most popular destination claiming 17.2 percent of the total after Catalonia secured first place with 21.3 percent.

The downturn, reported the Institute, is the first so far this year because increases in low cost airline passengers had been registered in each of the previous three months of January to March. Decline in numbers, research showed was principally due to the ash cloud thrown into the atmosphere by the erupting Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjalla.

Scheduled airline companies meanwhile, ferrying 1.9 million people into Spain last month lost 11.6 percent of their passengers in comparison with April last year.

The total number of foreign air passengers coming to Spain last month, whether by low cost or scheduled airline, was 4.1 million, 11.1 percent down on April 2009.

However, occupancy levels of low cost flights last month rose to 78.8 percent whilst scheduled airlines were just 72.2 percent full. Ryanair, Easyjet and Air Berlin are the main low cost operators in Spain, jointly claiming 61.1 percent of all air passengers.

Passengers from the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy made up 70 percent of the low cost airline travellers coming to Spain this April.