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Airport passengers down nine per cent

The effects of the recession in the global aviation industry is clear in the latest passenger figures for Ronaldsway Airport.

Nine per cent fewer passengers (48,300) passed through the airport in January compared to 12 months earlier.

However, Ronaldsway is still faring better than many in the UK and Europe where some routes are experiencing falls in traffic of between 20 and 40 per cent.

Airport Director, Ann Reynolds (pictured) said: ‘When many UK airports are experiencing double digit reductions in traffic, to be able to return a comparatively moderate fall of about nine per cent during the toughest month of the year is reassuring.

‘We are comparing a very buoyant 2007/8 winter season with one with an unprecedented slump in demand for air travel and a substantial reduction is inevitable.

‘Indeed, we had forecast a reduction of between 14 and 15 per cent and I am relieved that all of our cautious predictions in recent months, including January, have been significantly improved upon.’

A number of Island air services saw increases in traffic with Manx2 routes to Belfast International, Blackpool, Gloucester and East Midlands all up.

Flybe’s services to Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham and Geneva also improved over January 2008.

The primary North-West and London markets were hardest hit with 16 and 12 per cent reductions respectively, more than accounting for the total decrease of over 4,200 passengers for the month.

‘Again, this shows both the vulnerability of the principle routes to the economic situation and the strength and resilience of many of our air services’, she added.

‘However, with the Aer Arann three times daily service to London City which started on January 19, I am sure traffic to London will receive a boost in the coming months. Also, the expanded weekly Flybe ski flight to Geneva operated for the first time in January this year and was two thirds full - a very heartening response.’

Transport Minister David Anderson also underlined the Island’s economy as an additional strength for air service route stability.

‘Whilst the Isle of Man is not immune to the effect of the current economic crisis, our air carriers are benefiting from our comparatively strong economy’, he said.

‘The business sector remains buoyant, the Island’s residents continue to need to travel off the Island and the low value of sterling makes the Island attractive to visitors. This then creates a much more solid air travel market at a time when airlines badly need it.’

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