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Optimistic year end at airport

The December air passenger figures for Ronaldsway Airport showed an increase for the second month running, bringing a positive end to a year which saw an overall decrease of 3.1 per cent.

More than 1,000 more passengers used the airport in December 2007 than a year earlier with 63,000 passengers passing through the terminal.

More than 764,000 air passengers flew into and out of the Isle of Man during 2007, about 25,000 less than in 2006.

The shortfall is considered moderate as the Luton route, reintroduced in October after being withdrawn for much of 2007, accounted for a loss by the Airport of 51,500 passengers.

Another major decrease in 2007 was on routes to North West England, with Liverpool falling by almost 27,000 passengers and Manchester down by 15,500, but Blackpool increasing by 6,400.

Many other routes experienced growth with Gatwick up by 26,400 passengers or 22 per cent, Southampton up by 121 per cent, Blackpool by 43 per cent and the Belfast routes increasing by 24 per cent.

The Leeds route achieved its highest level since 1997.

Ann Reynolds, the Airport’s Director, said: ‘The December traffic figures are reassuring.

‘2007 has been a year of substantial change with Flybe taking over the BA Connect routes from the Island and establishing a base at the Airport.

‘It has been a tough year for many of our airlines as competition in the UK has become increasingly intense. I believe it will take a few more months to re-establish consistent growth, especially as some of our routes have had to be cut back during a particularly lean winter, but the indications for the future are good.’

At a time when the UK air travel industry is experiencing a flattening of demand in line with a slowing down of the economy and higher oil prices, Mrs Reynolds believes the route developments to be introduced from the Island show confidence by the airlines in the Isle of Man leisure and business markets.

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