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Youth Games boosts September passenger numbers 11 October 2011

A successful Commonwealth Youth Games has boosted passenger numbers for the Isle of Man Airport, with September once again seeing an increase in traffic. It is the sixth month in a row where the Airport has recorded an increase, with over 64,300 passengers passing through the terminal, an increase of 864 or 1.36% over September 2010. As the current UK economy and austerity measures are continuing to hit domestic air traffic very hard, the increase in passengers on Isle of Man routes, in many ways, bucks the trend.

Airport Director, Ann Reynolds welcomed the news, but was realistic about the September outturn. "Without doubt, the Airport experienced a very busy time over the period that the Commonwealth Youth Games was held, particularly as the stormy weather forced many people to revert to air travel," she said. "Most of the competing teams came by ferry so as a result of the high winds, it injected a boost in airport traffic which ultimately resulted in an increase for the month. There is no doubt that UK domestic air travel is currently very flat, particularly short haul leisure travel which has been hit hard by UK austerity measures. The underlying trend is still that Isle of Man air passenger traffic is running at about 2010 levels."

Again, it was the Northwest, and in particular the Liverpool route, which created most of the additional traffic. An increase of over 2,000 passengers to and from Liverpool meant that Northwest traffic was up by about 1,300 passengers. Flybe’s Birmingham route generated an increase in Midlands traffic and passengers to the south and south-west of England also climbed by 550 due to increases in both the Southampton and Gloucester routes. Manx2.com also saw significant growth of traffic to Belfast City and a successful end to the season for their Anglesey service. Whilst Aer Arann had less passengers travelling on their routes to London City and Dublin, this was due to the introduction of an aircraft with fewer seats, but they nevertheless had a successful month with the London City service in particular, operating three quarters full. Whilst passengers to Scotland were slightly down, the route to Glasgow continued its improved performance.

Again, it was the success of the direct holiday flights to Europe that also sealed the improvement in September. Passenger numbers on these services increased by 40% underlining the popularity of flights direct to the sun spots from the Island. Between May and October there will have been a total of 24 Mediterranean holiday departures to 9 destinations generating an estimated 4,400 passengers for the Airport.

Whilst Phil Gawne, MHK, Minister of Infrastructure acknowledged that the key attraction was the direct flights to holiday resorts without the hassle and uncertainty of a UK airport transfer, he underlined the quality and diversity of the flights and packages that have been offered during 2011. "The feedback we have had about the holidays that have been flown directly from the Isle of Man this year has been truly outstanding," he said. "Residents now have a wide choice of quality holidays available virtually on a weekly basis from May through to October. With destinations as diverse as Dubrovnik, Naples, Madeira and, of course, the Balearic Islands of Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza, and the choice of four tour operators with high reputations, the 2011 success is not surprising. This is what the residents of the Island have been seeking for a long-time and I am sure that the 2012 programmes – that are currently being planned – will be equally well supported." He went on “At the same time, we recognize our scheduled operators are continuing to offer some very good fares in order to attract passengers. Everyone recognizes it will be another hard winter economically, but we really do need the range of daily services to continue to attract both visitors and business to the Island.”

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