17th February 2012
Passenger numbers flat as Airport receives mixed news
The start of 2012 has revealed mixed news for the Isle of Man Airport as passenger numbers for January saw a slight growth over 2011. Some 600 more passengers passed through the Airport last month, an increase of 1.3% over January 2011. This rather flat passenger performance underlines the difficult time that airlines continue to have throughout the UK and Europe. The anticipation for a solid recovery for the domestic and European air travel market has been dashed in recent months by the tough economic environment throughout much of Europe. During the last quarter of 2011, almost half the UK airports recorded a reduction in domestic traffic, at a time when, just a year ago, promising growth was forecast. The Isle of Man Airport, however, generated 5% growth during the quarter.
January is always a particularly challenging month for airlines and airports and the for the Isle of Man air services the seasonal nature of tourism emphasizes the difficulty with filling aircraft seats. Airport Director, Ann Reynolds explained that many airlines had trimmed their Isle of Man schedules for January and February to match the slump in demand. “Given the cutbacks we have had for this winter period, I am pleased to see an actual increase in traffic for the month, albeit small,” she said. “However, many of our routes have recorded a reduction in passengers, and the less busy, or “thinner”, routes have experienced a pretty lean time. As a result there has been some mixed news for our route network during January. The Flybe routes to Southampton and Bristol averaged less than a quarter full during January, following some disappointing months with relatively low passenger loads, and Flybe have decided to close Southampton from the end of February. On the positive side we are delighted to confirm that from May, Manx2.com will commence a daily schedule to London Oxford Airport, and Flybe partner airline, Loganair, will fly a weekly service throughout the summer to Norwich.”
The new Oxford route will provide a useful alternative for many passengers currently flying to Southampton as the compact and convenient London Oxford Airport is situated close to the A34 providing a fast direct route to the Southampton area, just an hour away. The M40 is also close by giving quick and easy access to Heathrow and West London. The summer flights to Norwich will also open up a part of the UK which has not been easily accessible from the Island. Both routes offer great opportunities for short breaks and for visiting friends and relatives and the daily Oxford flights will open up a convenient link for business travel to central and Southern England.
It is interesting to note that it was routes to the South and South West of England that generated a large proportion of the additional Island traffic during January and that the Bristol and Southampton routes contributed 1,260 additional passengers. It is expected that much of this extra traffic will transfer to other departure points such as Oxford and Gatwick in the future. The North West was again buoyant with Liverpool recording an increase of almost 14%.
Departmental Member for Ports, David Callister MLC, whist disappointed to learn of the withdrawal of the Southampton service, warmly welcomed the development of the new Oxford and Norwich links. “I am very encouraged by the steps that both Manx2.com and Loganair have taken to grasp the opportunity to fill two vital gaps in our air service network,” he said. “Loganair, working with Flybe, have demonstrated for years their reliability and commitment with their flights between the Island and both Glasgow and Edinburgh and I am sure that they will do well with Norwich. Manx2.com have shown how they can be highly successful operating frequent flights to convenient, niche market airports such as Gloucester and the route to Oxford will take off equally well. I wish them both every success.”
Please click below to access Passenger figures for January 2012