International air passenger traffic in Spain soars in May

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish air passenger traffic

MALAGA – The number of international passengers in Spain increased in May, compared to April, by 71% to almost 1.4 million. This is the highest air passenger traffic number since August 2020. 29% of passengers came from Germany.  

The figure is still 84.2% lower than in the same month of 2019, according to the latest economic note published on Monday by Spain’s Turespaña Tourism Authority. ‘Despite the fact that we are still far from reaching pre-pandemic levels, the data suggest that we have begun a gradual recovery in mobility, which will increase as vaccination progresses, restrictions are lifted and measures such as the EU-COVID digital certificate are introduced,’ said Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto.  

Almost four million 

Between January and May, Spain received 3.86 million international passengers, 70.9% and 88.7% less than in 2020 and 2019 respectively. International passenger traffic from low-cost airlines fell 80.4% (-92.8%) year-on-year, while that of traditional airlines was down 60.0% (-83.3%). 

Turespaña data shows that 66.4% of passengers were from the European Union, a decrease of 64.5% (-86.4%). The decrease in the number of air passengers from the rest of the world (33.6%) was more significant at 78.5% (-91.5%).  

Germany ‘top supplier’ 

With 407,431 passengers in May, Germany was the top supplier of air passenger traffic, 29.2% of the total; followed by France with 191,035 passengers (13.7%) and Switzerland with 98,329 passengers (7%). The arrival of passengers from Germany increased by 4.173% (-71.4%). The Balearic Islands in particular have benefited from this. 33.4% of German passengers flew with low-cost carriers, an increase of 13.25% compared to last year, a decrease of 74.2% compared to 2019. 

Cogesa Expats

France and United Kingdom  

France even showed an increase of 4.681% year-on-year (-71%), among the French, Madrid and Catalonia were particularly popular. 9.2% of passengers arriving in Spain from French airports flew with traditional airlines, 19.3% with low-cost carriers. 

Although the UK has traditionally been number one, it now ranks seventh after Italy. The UK carried 3.4% of passengers arriving in May, an increase of 630.1% year-on-year (-98%). Britons flew more often with low-cost carriers (4.4% of total passengers) than with traditional carriers (2.5%). 

Balearic Islands most popular destination 

In the six most popular autonomous regions, growth was 3.065% (-83.9%). The Balearic Islands are number one with 27.7%, Madrid (25.2%), Catalonia (14.1%), the Canary Islands (11.4%), Andalusia (10.9%) and Valencia (9.8%) together accounted for 71.3% of the total number of air passengers arriving in Spain.  

Two busiest airports in May 

Spain’s two busiest airports Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas and Palma de Mallorca, with 351,641 and 315,711 international passengers respectively, accounted for almost half of the arrivals (47.8%). Barcelona received 195,840 international passengers (14% of the total) and Malaga, 134,057 passengers (9.6%).  55.4% of international air passengers arriving in Spain in May chose traditional airlines, while 44.6% opted for low-cost carriers. 


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