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Alicante Airport : 1 Year (and counting....)

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 6th Apr 2012

It is just over one year since Alicante's El Altet Airport celebrated the opening of its 20 Million Euro new terminal building, which I blogged about when catching one of the first commercial flights from the airport open to the great unwashed public.

Coincidentally, I am writing this blog from the departure lounge of the very same airport on the anniversary of it’s opening – a date which also coincides with the start of the summer season – March the 25th.

Much has been written in the press lately regarding the on-going fight between AENA (the state owned managers of the airport) and Ryanair (surely, no introduction required ?), specifically their decision to slash 18 routes for the coming summer season, representing the loss of an estimated 300 flights per week, and 1.5 million passengers before the end of the season.

In relative terms this equates to a 15% loss of business on 2011 – which, when you consider that the new terminal only operated at 50% of its design capacity last year, represents a disappointing move.

There is also the fact that the neighbouring airport of Corvera is also expected to open over the course of 2012 – which is estimated to take as much as 20% of El Altet’s traffic away.

... I digress : These are just thoughts that are bouncing around my head as I am sat waiting for my flight to be called.

What the press has been at pains to point out since the Ryanair debacle first came to light is that fact that 2011 represented the 4th best year for the number of tourists since records began. It also represented a record year for the revenue generated by foreign visitors, with every indication being that 2012 should generate equally impressive figures.

Or at least that is the estimation for Spain as a whole.

The Costa Blanca will need to brace itself for lean times after Ryanair (amongst other airlines such as Air Berlin, Lufthansa etc...) has turned its back on El Altet in favour of other destinations. Palma de Mallorca – long a competitor of the Costa Blanca - is back in favour after Ryanair have diverted 6 aircraft from their [previous] base at Alicante to the airport, which has reflected a growth in popularity for the Balearic Island.

Although I am far from being Ryanair’s biggest fan I cannot understand how the AENA management at Alicante Airport think they can not only plug the hole that the airline’s cut routes have left behind, but can go on to grow business in 2013 once Corvera has opened, is way beyond my understanding.

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