STAFF REPORTER PALMA was the Spanish airport most used by low cost travellers in August, Central Government confirmed yesterday. The 831'478 passengers which Palma handled last month was 7.2 percent more than the figure for August 2009. Next in line came Malaga where the 473'897 travellers using the airport were 10.9 percent more than a year previously, and Barcelona's El Prat airport, 7.4 percent up on August 2009 (414'384).

Looking at Spain as a whole, low cost airlines brought 3.96 million foreign visitors to the country during August, 10.5 percent more than during the same month in 2009.

The figures, reported the Ministry for Industry and Tourism, were well up on those registered during August for traditional airlines which carried 2.85 million foreign visitors, a year-on-year upturn of 2.1 percent.

Low cost travellers comprised more than half the number of international visitors coming to Spain in August this year, said the ministry's research - over 58 percent.

In terms of increases in the number of low cost passengers this August in comparison with the same month in 2009, the airport of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands which handled 106'640 arrivals and departures last month, registered the highest upturn of 31.5 percent.

The only airport which handled a lesser number of low cost passengers last month in comparison with 2009 was Girona where a downturn of 2 percent was registered.

The occupancy levels of low cost flights coming to Spain last month averaged out at 85.7 percent, 8.1 percent higher than figures reported by traditional airlines.

Ryanair, easyJet and Air Berlin maintain their leadership of the low cost airlines serving Spanish airports.