Spanish airport traffic trends

Variation in air traffic numbers throws interesting light on Spain’s problems as it plunges into recession.

This chart is extracted from fascinating data compiled by Anna.Aero, a superb new-ish site dealing with the air transport sector:

Anna’s main chart (see their site) shows Spain suffering the greatest reduction in traffic among the Mediterranean countries, and intranational variation shows some coping with the recession better than others. Competition between individual airports is clearly important, with measures including subsidies for the airlines, de-unionisation and other forms of cost-cutting, and quite possibly brothel visits. On the east coast, for example, Valencia is in trouble (Ryanair withdrew many services in October after the regional authorities failed to cave in to its demands) and Barcelona is also down sharply, while Reus, which is close to Barcelona and only a couple of hours from Valencia, is up an incredible 143% in January, and Girona, which also sucks off some of the Barcelona trade, is not suffering quite as badly.

Effective regional policy is also key. A classic example of failure in this respect is Galicia, where purblind provincialism and an approach to markets that would have been familiar to Canute’s courtiers has left Santiago hit and Vigo and La Coruña badly wounded, while over the border in Portugal Oporto is taking their trade and level-pegging as a result.

It seems unlikely that airports like Pamplona and Jerez have any short- to medium-term future, and Huesca, which opened recently at considerable public expense, may well disappear without scoring.

One day this folly may form food for thought for the administrations involved, assuming corruption investigators are not already thinking on their behalf.

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