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Traffic down to major destinations, but regional routes thriving 10 October 2007

Although the number of passengers flying through the Isle of Man Airport decreased again last month over September 2006, with the primary destinations hardest hit, the Airport’s smaller, regional routes have shown promising growth.

In total, the Isle of Man Airport passengers were down by over 5,500 passengers in September. The lack of the Luton route – due to be restarted by Flybe this month – has again been the major contributor to the shortfall, with over 5,300 passengers carried in September 2006. Other significantly declining routes were Liverpool, Manchester and, to a lesser extent, Birmingham. Together these four routes saw a fall in passengers of over 10,000 for the month, but the good performance of the expanding, smaller, regional routes almost halved this deficit.

Star performers in September were the new Gloucester service, which was started by Manx2 on 3rd of the month and carried almost 1,200 passengers in its first 28 days of operation, and Flybe’s Southampton route, which doubled passengers to almost 2,000. Routes to Leeds, Dublin, Blackpool, Belfast City, Edinburgh and the Channel Islands all saw increases.

Airport Director, Ann Reynolds, viewed the September results with mixed feelings.

“The shortfall was expected and it will still take several more months to reverse the downturn in passengers”, she said. “It is encouraging to again see our expanding network of ‘thinner’ routes doing well, but I remain particularly concerned about the performance of the major Northwest routes. Manchester and Liverpool together declined by over 3,000 passengers, although EuroManx’ Manchester service saw a 34% increase. We believe that the doubling of Airport Passenger Duty earlier this year made a difference, especially with the very short sector routes such as our Manchester and Liverpool services: with the tax increase, people are just not flying quite so often.”

Ann confirmed that the airport is working closely with the airlines serving the Northwest to help to stimulate this market.

The benefit from diversifying by adding new routes to the network was underlined in September. The new Gloucester route far exceeded expectation for its first month of operation with two-thirds of the seats on the service sold. It is interesting to note that whilst 1,170 passengers were flown on this route, the Bristol route declined by only 228 passengers, indicating that most of the Gloucester traffic was completely new.

“This clearly shows that by introducing new destinations, we can open up entirely new markets,” said Ann. “We will continue to strive to develop further routes from the Island as these will doubtless generate new visitors and improve our business communications. The re-introduced link with Luton, I am sure, will have the same result, with other London destinations being largely unaffected by Flybe’s new service to the North London destination at the end of October.”

Charter traffic from the airport also experienced a significant increase and the airport is working closely with tour operators to provide more direct flights to holiday destinations in 2008.

“We are sure that Isle of Man residents would support a much wider choice of holiday resorts and frequency of flights,” added Ann. “The ski holidays to Geneva in early 2008 are almost sold out, even with extra flights added and we are looking ahead to see if we can encourage some exciting new summer destinations for next year. We would be interested to learn from our residents which destinations and resorts they would be particularly keen to fly to.”

The monthly air traffic summary for September 2007 is available to download from the bottom of this page.

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