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Following Second-Wave Restrictions, Passenger Traffic in Spain Plunges


Madrid’s Terminal 4S is huge. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | João Machado)

During February, the 48 airports managed by Aena Aeropuertos in Spain handled 2,229,568 passengers, a figure 86.8% lower than in the same month of 2020. This is the largest year-on-year drop recorded since last May, a sign of the impact the second wave of COVID-19 infections and the subsequent restrictions on the movement of people established by European governments have had in the activity. Aircraft movement fell 62.4%, reaching 59,579 operations, while 69,666 tons of cargo were transported, a fall of just 16.7 points.

Of the total passengers, 2,210,617 correspond to commercial passengers, and of these, 865,799 were from the international segment (-92.1%) and 1,353,818 from the domestic segment (-77.2%).

“The Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport registered the highest number of passengers in the second month of the year with 752,969, which represents a decrease of -82.9 percent compared to February 2020. They are followed by Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat, with 286,650 (-91.3 percent); Gran Canaria, with 183,157, (-83.7 percent); Tenerife North-Ciudad de la Laguna, with 147,471 (-66.4 percent); Palma de Mallorca, with 141,657 (-84.6 points), Malaga-Costa del Sol, with 105,172 (-90.7 percent), and Tenerife South, with 81,182 (-91.2 percent),”  Aena stated in a press release.

The four airports that registered the highest freight traffic were Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, with 36,683 tons (-18.6%); Zaragoza, with 13,456 tons (-1.6 points); Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat, with 9,007 tons (-33.3%) and Vitoria, 5,585 tons (+ 11.7 points).

In terms of passengers mobilized, the number one route from Barajas airport continues to be, as usual, the one that connects it with Barcelona-El Prat, with 92,698 passengers in February (-77.9%). Second place went to Palma de Mallorca with 75,532 passengers (-73.9%), and the podium was completed by Gran Canaria, with 71,476 passengers (-69.9%).

Regarding the international segment, the first place was Barajas – Paris / Orly with 58,619 passengers (-73 points), followed by Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) with 49,669 passengers (-29.1 points) and in third place was Mexico City with 37,545 passengers (-70.9%). Other key Latin American markets are Bogotá, with 30,924 passengers (-80.8%); San Pablo-Guarulhos, 30,073 passengers (-74 points) and Buenos Aires, 27,953 passengers (-81.7%).

The airport management company had awarded the space to locate COVID-19 diagnostic testing clinics for passengers in 15 airports in the country last January, anticipating a recovery that is stalling again. Aena required at the time the price of the tests to be competitive and adequate and not, in any case, to be higher than the price of the same tests or services in reference establishments. The installations would be located in the departure areas and would carry out tests mainly for passengers who need it in the destination country.

While the buildup of those facilities is still ongoing, the passenger flow has transformed this initiative in a sign of a demand that is failing to increase. COVID’s new strains and restrictions pose a remarkable challenge for an industry that depends on passenger movement in larger volumes. The main hope the airport industry has is a steady and fast rollout of global vaccination. Until then, the possibility of taking the first baby steps on the path to recovery is not more than good old wishful thinking.

Pablo Diaz


  • Pablo Diaz

    Since a little kid, Pablo set his passions in order: aviation, soccer, and everything else. He has traveled to various destinations throughout South America, Asia, and Europe. Technology and systems expert, occasional spotter, not-so-dynamic midfielder, blogger, husband, father of three cats; he believes that Latin America's aviation industry past, present, and future offer a lot of stories to be told.

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