Official data from Aena says eight out of the first ten operators in Málaga airport are not Spanish airlines. Malagahoy.es made contact with the management of four foreign airlines. They highlight the importance of Málaga for their companies although they showed their concern about the future, considering the doubts on the Aena’s privatisation process and the airport prices that will have to be paid in the medium and long term. This is a key to analyse the returns and decide the investments.
The leading company in Málaga is Ryanair. Last year they served nearly three million passengers, about double its closest competitor. This means one out of four travellers in Málaga fly Ryanair. They started operations in Málaga in 2003 but the big expansion happened in 2010 when they opened a base which currently has three aircrafts. They fly to 50 different direct destinations at 13 European countries.
Luis Fernández-Mellado – Sales and Marketing Director for Ryanair in Spain, Portugal and Malta – said they are a strategic partner for tourism in Costa del Sol and emphasised the importance of low cost flights for the airport.
For this summer season they are offering 7% less seats than the previous year. Fernández-Mellado assured Málaga is amongst the 15 most important airports for the airline. However he has doubts about the future because “in Italy, Portugal or Greece, they are reaching agreements for 5 or 10 years, but in Spain we are more conservative due to the uncertainty on airport charges”. “Spain is at a disadvantage because we do not know about the price level or the future of the airports with the Aena’s privatisation”.
Air Berlin was the sixth operator in Málaga last year, transporting 561,321 passengers. Paul Verhagen—General Director for Spain and Portugal—says this is their most important airport in Spain’s mainland. Only Palma de Mallorca and the Canary Islands, beat these numbers. In the current winter season they are operating 34 weekly services to eight destinations (6 in Germany, 1 in Austria and 1 in Palma de Mallorca). For the summer they are operating 41 weekly frequencies to 9 destinations (adding one in Germany).
Verhagen thinks the most important challenge for the airport is to become a real year-round destination with an attractive offer for the holiday makers to see the region as an option for the winter too. He criticised that the infrastructures are over the real demand and that has an impact on the maintenance cost increase which, in turn, produces an increase in the price of the ticket per passenger.
One of the latest foreign airlines to arrive in Málaga has been Turkish Airlines, three years ago. Its general director there, Halid Koca, says “Turkish are very happy with the results since we started operations” and explains they increased frequencies with Istanbul in June last year. “Our target is now to consolidate our daily service and continue to grow both in the inbound and outbound passengers”.
“Málaga has got a great airport. The city and the region will continue to bring the international tourism. The airport is very near to downtown and is very well connected with the most important cities in Andalusia. We feel really good here and have everything we need to perform our activities”.
Jet2.com is one of the airlines which growth in the last years was most significant. They were about to reach half a million passengers in Málaga last year. “Málaga is no doubt one of our most important airports in Spain, as demonstrated by the 48 weekly flights we will reach this summer” says Steve Heapy, general director for Jet2.com. He thinks it is essential that the airport is well connected by road and by train. “We will continue to grow” assures. Jet2.com flies to 12 Spanish airports and has 8 bases in the UK.
After investing 1,800 million Euros, Málaga has become one of the most modern airports in Europe. The target is to double passengers and, for that purpose, they will require the help from the foreign airlines and clarify doubts with the airport charges.
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