Friday, April 13, 2012

Steady Improvement Continues with Airport Passengers

March passengers using the Isle of Man Airport increased once again compared with the same month last year with 1,664 more passengers passing through Ronaldsway, an increase of 3% over March 2011.  This steady yet positive growth has been the trend for the past few months following a period where traffic levels have matched the previous year.  Over 57,000 passengers passed through Ronaldsway in March.

The steady progress for the Airport has meant that after a 4.1% increase for 2011 over 2010, the April to March 2011/12 financial year growth has also steadily improved to 5.2%. Over 35,000 additional passengers used the Airport and the majority of the growth has been focused upon the North West where air traffic to and from the Island increased by 11.5%.  Both Liverpool and Manchester routes have seen increases – Liverpool by 31,500 passengers. 

Flights to the South and South West of England also generated over 8,000 more passengers, a 26% increase, but the withdrawal of the Southampton route will reverse this trend.  The Flybe Midlands’ link to Birmingham has continued to improve with the last 12 months being 3.4% better than the previous year and March a healthy 9.2% up. The Geneva service again produced excellent results and was 40% up in March and 14% up for the past year and’s routes to Newcastle, Leeds and Belfast all  showed increases.  London traffic has continued to decline with a 2.4% decrease over the 2011/2012 year and 5.5% down for March, but the Gatwick route improved during March by 2%.

Ann Reynolds, Isle of Man Airport’s Director welcomed the continued improvement, but was cautious about the ability to sustain growth in the immediate future.  “The steady improvement is encouraging and we have managed to maintain this for 11 out of the last 12 months, with only October 2011 registering a small decrease of under 1%,” she said. “However, the announcement by Aer Arann that they will cease the London City route is clearly a blow to the Island and is bound to affect our ability to sustain growth over the coming months. We are working hard to try to secure an alternative operation, but this is proving a challenge given the continued economic difficulties in the UK, as the route primarily supports business traffic. Nevertheless we will keep trying as we are keenly aware of the importance of the link to the Island’s business sector.”

On the positive side, next month, May, will see the launch of two new routes from the Island: a daily service to London Oxford Airport with and a summer service to Norwich, linking the Island with East Anglia operated by Flybe partner, Loganair.  Both routes are selling well and the Oxford service will fill a much needed gap, serving the west side of London and Southern England, as well as the immediate catchment area of Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties.

Departmental Member for Ports, David Callister MLC, whilst conscious of the need to try to restore the London City route, also recognizes the value of these new services for 2012.  “The diversity of our air service network is a vital tool in our ability to attract both business and tourism to the Island and is also a key asset in terms of the quality of life here for Island residents,” he said.  “Both the Oxford and the Norwich routes will fill clear gaps in our links with the UK  it is encouraging that advance sales are good for both routes.  In the meantime, we are continuing to look strategically at how the London market can be realistically and sustainably served and we hope to see progress with this over the coming weeks.”