The Isle of Man Airport finished 2012 with a slight fall in traffic of 0.7% for the year, and the first two months of 2013 continued in much the same vein with the flat trend recording a passenger decrease of just half a percent. However, March has seen a significant improvement – despite the freezing weather that gripped the British Isles – with a solid increase in passengers of 6%. This has meant that the first quarter of 2012 has seen a 1.9% increase over the same period in 2012. Exactly 158,000 passengers passed through the Airport in the first three months, almost 3,000 more than in 2012.
Throughout the first three months of 2013, the improved performance has been focused almost completely on the principle markets of the Northwest of England and London. Northwest traffic was up by almost 4,000 passengers -2,500 of them in March - an increase of traffic to and from the region of 5.4%. Naturally, this increase has been focused on the Liverpool route where over 4,600 additional passengers were carried, with easyJet up by almost 9,700.
London routes have seen an equally positive rise with 8,271 additional passengers during the first quarter of 2013. Gatwick traffic rose by almost 9,700, with easyJet contributing 12,500 and Flybe 25,200 to the total throughput on the route of 37,700, a 34.5% increase over last year. The BA CityFlyer London City route added almost 2,000 passengers to the 2012 first quarter total, an increase of 20%. All this was despite the Luton service, which had been suspended for almost 3 months, only being restarted at the end of March.
Ann Reynolds, Airport Director at the Isle Of Man Airport, was pleased to note the overall increase over the three-month period and particularly the 6% increase in March. 'The 1.9% increase for the quarter is against a background of the first quarter of 2012 increasing by 2.9%, so it is particularly gratifying to see a consistent increase for the past two years over the period' she said.
'I'm particularly pleased to see the London market responding well to increased capacity from Gatwick and especially that the BA London City route has recorded a healthy increase of 20% during the quarter. With Luton now restarted, I would expect that London traffic will continue to grow at a good pace with a broad variety of services being offered to the three London destinations by Flybe, easyJet and BA CityFlyer.'
With the exception of an increase in passengers on the Geneva route, where traffic has grown by 6%, all other regions have seen traffic declines. Perhaps most noticeable was the 3,600 passenger decline in South/Southwest traffic, a fall of 54%. This has been due to the suspension of the Bristol service for the winter, and Southampton over the last year. Both routes are due to be restarted in May. The suspension of the Leeds/Bradford service has meant that the numbers of North East passengers have sharply reduced by almost 1,800, or over 60%. Scotland has also seen a marked decline, of 20% and the withdrawal of the Blue Islands Jersey route has meant that all direct flights to the Channel Islands have now ceased. The Midlands has also experienced a difficult time with the Birmingham service declining by 14%.
Minister for Infrastructure David Cretney MHK, whilst pleased about the traffic increase for the first quarter of 2013, is conscious of the difficulties that the ‘thinner’ regional routes are experiencing with the continued economic downturn in the UK and Europe. 'It is very encouraging to see that our key markets are experiencing positive passenger increases, but I know that the Island also benefits significantly by having a broad range of destinations providing high frequency air services linking our community with the UK in particular,' he said. 'These routes continue to experience hard times and we are evaluating measures that will help to retain our network and the advantages provided by frequent flights.'