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Airport Passenger Numbers Dip As Global Economic Downturn Begins to Bite 9 October 2008

September passenger figures for the Isle of Man Airport showed a slight downturn over September 2007 as the global financial crisis begins to affect air travel, even to and from the Isle of Man. The 2.2% decrease has also been fuelled by the reduction of capacity on services to London and North West England following the closure of Euromanx in May this year. The London City route is only offering a single flight daily compared with four daily in 2007, and the Manchester and Liverpool services together now have about 100 fewer seats a day in each direction.

The fall of about 1,500 passengers for September is, however, a better result than the reduction of almost 2,000 predicted by the Airport. Whilst Airport Director, Ann Reynolds, would have preferred to report a continuation of the increases seen for all but one of the last ten months, she confirmed that the Airport is still performing ahead of expectation. “Given the current economic climate, together with the loss of Euromanx, the Isle of Man continues to perform well compared with many other UK regional airports,” she said. “Despite a large reduction in capacity to the North West of over 12%, we only saw only a 2% drop in passengers flying to and from Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool. This means that our airlines, during increasingly difficult times, are achieving higher load factors and thus greater stability on these routes.”

The London routes together suffered a small drop of 1.3% with the massive 4,500 passenger decrease for the London City route almost offset by the reintroduction of the Luton and small growth to the Gatwick service. Isle of Man to Luton generated almost 4, 000 passengers in September making it the fifth most popular destination from the Island, and justifying the spirited campaign in 2007 to ensure that the service was restored.

“We are delighted with the performance of the Flybe Luton route which is clearly fulfilling the need for a North London destination that we knew from past experience is vital for the Island,” said Ann. “Our current concern – and our effort – remains focused upon the restoration of a much needed business frequency to London City. Although traffic has largely redistributed itself to Gatwick and Luton, the situation is far from ideal for the Island’s business community and the Airport alike, and we are determined to see the route restored to the daily number of flights desperately needed.”

Other routes performing well in September were the Manx2 links to Gloucester, Belfast International and Blackpool. Gloucester M5 celebrated its first year of operation on 3 September with over 16,000 passengers carried during the year. As a result, Manx2 are adding an additional Friday flight to cope with increasing demand. Loganair’s Edinburgh route saw a 15% increase and their flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh from the Island will be bookable on the Flybe website this month as the airline becomes a franchise partner of Flybe.

Minister for Transport, David Anderson MHK, underlined the current focus of the Department with regard to immediate and long term future of air services from the Isle of Man. He said: “It is, without doubt, going to be a tough winter for many industries and especially difficult for airlines,” he said. “I am reassured by the September passenger figures that overall, our route network remains strong, and we will continue to support our airlines in the months to come. It is vital that, even with a dip in passenger numbers during the economic downturn, we have a firm base to encourage new route opportunities, and thus growth, when the global economic situation begins to recover.”

Please see Monthly Air Traffic Summary below for September 2008.

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