Almost half of all international travellers to Spain land in Madrid

by Lorraine Williamson
International travellers - Barajas airport, Madrid
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MADRID – With the absence of the international tourists landing at the airports of the Canary Islands, Catalonia, Andalucia and Valencia, Madrid now receives 41% of all international travellers coming to Spain. 

Last March, a total of 660,000 travellers landed in Spain from an international airport. That is 71% less than in March 2020 and even 90% less than in March 2019. At all Spanish airports the number of travellers fell dramatically. However, the largest decreases were registered in Valencia (-94%), Catalonia (-93%) and the Canary Islands (-92%). 

In March this year, 269,226 passengers from abroad landed in Madrid, which is 85% less compared to March 2019. At that time, according to tourist information agency Turespaña, there were still 1.8 million. Because this decline is less significant than at other airports, the relative weight on the Madrid Barajas has further increased. In March 2019, when there were no travel restrictions and it was peak season in the Canary Islands, Madrid’s airport handled 27% of the total number of passengers at the Spanish airports. Now that percentage has increased to almost 41%. 

Passenger numbers at Balearic airports also increased in percentage terms 

In addition to Madrid, the percentage share of international passengers at the airports of the Balearic Islands has also increased. In March 2019, 6% of international travellers to Spain landed on this archipelago, versus 11.4% in March this year. However, the number of travellers to the Balearic Islands decreased from 390,600 in March 2019 to 75,387 this March. 

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Largest drop for Catalonia airports 

The biggest loss was made by the region of Catalonia.  Of all international travellers who came to Spain, 22% landed here in March 2019. Whereas last March this dropped even further to just over 15% left. This equates to 99,949 passengers compared to 1.4 million in March 2019. The same applies to the Canary Islands airports where 20% of tourists landed in March 2019, versus 15.5% last March. Andalucian and Valencian regional airports share fell from 11.5% and 10.2% to 9.6% and 6.5% respectively in the same period. 

It is expected that more international travellers will arrive at Spanish airports from June once the so-called digital green travel certificate has been approved. With this certificate, travellers who have been vaccinated or have a recent negative test result can enter Spain without any issue. 

International travellers

The European Commission is doing everything it can to get tourism back on track this summer with this travel certificate, but the member states may also choose to continue to enforce the travel restrictions. 

Vaccination campaigns are crucial for tourism 

According to the Spanish Association of Airlines (ALA), airlines expect to achieve 58% of summer 2019 flights this summer. The aviation employers’ association has indicated that the number of flights will depend on the course of the vaccination campaigns, the corona figures and the travel advice issued by the various Member States. 

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