STAFF REPORTER

THE number of passengers using low cost airlines to get to Palma fell by 12.8 percent in November to 133'255, Central Government's Institute for Tourist Studies confirmed yesterday, the highest downturn in the country.

But the Institute, which is part of the Ministry for Tourism, Industry and Commerce, also said that at a national level, nearly half (49.5 percent, 1.76 million) of the total number of passengers coming to Spain last month came with low cost airlines.

Traditional airlines handled 50.5 percent of November's visitors in the sum of 1.79 million passengers. It is the second consecutive month in which there has been growth in numbers of international travellers choosing to fly with traditional airlines (8%) rather than low cost (5.2%).

So far this year, Palma has handled 5.3 million passengers arriving or departing with low cost airlines, a downturn of 1.6 percent in comparison with the same period in 2009. Palma nevertheless continues to be the airport with the highest number of low cost visitors in the country.

Nationwide, low cost airlines have been responsible for transporting 30 million passengers during the first 11 months of the year, 6.3 percent more than a year ago, the Institute for Tourist studies claimed.

The largest low cost client markets coming to Spain remain the United Kingdom and Germany, accounting for 37.9 and 20.9 percent of business respectively.

After Palma, the airports of Spain registering the highest number of low cost passengers up until the end of November this year were Malaga with 3.58 million, 4.2 percent more than during the same period in 2009; El Prat airport in Barcelona (3.56 million, 11.3% more); and Alicante (3.17 million, 4.1% more.) In fifth place was Barajas airport in Madrid with over 3 million (24.6% more) followed by Girona which with 1.89 million passengers, experienced the second largest downturn in passengers (9.7%) after Palma.

Jointly the regions of the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and the Canary Islands spearheaded the ranking of low cost airline activity in Spain during the first 11 months of the year.

In fact the Balearic Islands were top of the list claiming 22.7 percent of low cost arrivals and departures during this period.

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