Palma.— Figures for the private aviation sector at Palma's Son Sant Joan airport from the start of the year to the end of July are significantly lower (752) than the number of operations registered during the same period in 2011 (1'140) the Spanish National Airports Authority (AENA) reported yesterday.

AENA's general aviation department said that passenger numbers in the sector were also down from 1'146 during the first seven months of 2011 to 600 during the same period this year.

Records show that the majority of passengers in private jet businesses operating in and out of Palma are clients with high spending power coming from all over the world. Most of them, however, will have touched down in Madrid or Barcelona before taking the final step of the journey to Palma.

More than 80 percent of Majorca's private jet operations have other Spanish airports as the point of origin, but the general aviation department has registers of flights arriving in Palma from France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Belgium, Austria, Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Chad, the Ivory Coast, Portugal and Italy.

Since the start of the economic crisis in 2007, the level of private aircraft operations in Palma has been steadily declining. Last year, there was a significant downturn in summer business with a 41 percent downturn registered between May and August.

The declining trend looks set to continue this year although final figures for August are awaited. The development is of concern to AENA as it views the private air transport sector as “a costly, but special and necessary service.”

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