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Island Air Passengers Down By 10% 9 July 2008

After a seven month period of steady growth, a significant downturn in the number of passengers using the Isle of Man Airport has been revealed. The 10% fall recorded in June 2008 is attributed to three key factors, these being the collapse of EuroManx, a global reduction in air travel caused by increased fuel prices, and the direct comparison with June 2007, when the figures were exceptionally boosted by Centenary TT visitors.

It is estimated that with the massive influx of passengers in June 2007, air traffic to and from the Island was more than 6% higher than an average June total. Whilst the 2008 TT Festival attracted many thousands of air passengers, it did not come close to the impact of the Centenary celebrations.

Airport Director, Ann Reynolds remains optimistic despite the fall in air traffic. “Following the demise of Euromanx we were fortunate not to lose any routes, however as the airline was responsible for 30% of our passenger traffic it was obvious that their collapse would have a negative effect on our figures,” she said. “However, both Flybe and Manx2 have responded positively with additional flights on the Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast routes, and that is why the impact has not been as severe as we had feared. Indeed, our Manchester traffic actually grew in June 2008 compared with 2007 and we believe that many passengers have switched their travel to Manchester rather than flying to Liverpool.”

Discounting the effect of the Centenary TT, June passenger figures were actually down by only about 4%. Fuel prices have doubled over the past year and this has had a two-fold effect upon air travel. Firstly, fares have had to increase to ensure that routes remain viable, and this has reduced demand. Secondly, people are finding that their own expenses are rising and there is less money available to spend on air travel, again reducing demand. “As with all airports, we expect to see a significant slow down in air travel growth over the coming months,” added Ann. “So it is vitally important that we maintain a stable and viable air service network from the Isle of Man during these tough times, even if it means a slight reduction in passenger numbers. Our priority will be to try to sustain and build upon the substantial choice of 21 air service destinations from the Island, and to also ensure that our primary routes to London and the North West remain strong for the airlines that serve them.”

Of particular concern has been the future of the London City route where traffic has plummeted since Euromanx ceased flying. Although VLM continue to offer a daily service, passenger numbers are only about one fifth of the 2007 level, principally because the service originates from London City rather than the Isle of Man. “We have a continuing dialogue with VLM and London City Airport to try to secure a future for this vital route, that meets the needs of Island based businesses,” said Ann. “We have also looked at many other options for the route, but whilst there are several challenges for the route, the key problem is primarily slot availability at London City.”

Once again, the positive results in June primarily came from the newer, smaller routes such as Manx2’s East Midlands and Gloucester services, the Blue Islands’ Channel Islands’ flights as well as the Flybe route to Luton. All of these produced increases in passenger traffic. Moreover, the percentage of seats sold, the load factor, on all Isle of Man routes also increased to well over 60%. “

It is reassuring that our airlines are now achieving solid commercial results, despite the downturn in overall demand,” said Ann. Manx2 has already announced increases in frequency to their Belfast services. Flybe has recently published its winter timetable and the Isle of Man has fared well compared with many other airports on the Flybe network with most services maintaining current frequencies, although the Southampton service will be suspended for the winter season. This underlines the confidence that our airlines have in the Isle of Man market.”

(Please see Monthly Air Traffic Summery for June 2008 below)

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