International air traffic in Spain almost recovered after the pandemic

by Lorraine Williamson
air traffic

MADRID – Spanish airports registered more than 80.4 million international arrivals in 2022. More than half of these travellers arrived with low-cost airlines. That means a recovery of 95% of pre-pandemic air traffic. 

As of December 2022, Spanish airports have registered more than 5.7 million passengers on international flights. That is just 5% less than the same month of 2019. Furthermore, it represents a recovery of 95% of the pre-Covid-19 volume, with a total of 80,476,491 international arrivals in the whole year. Compared to pre-pandemic data, this is a decrease of 14.8%. 

56.2% of international passengers arrived on flights from the European Union booked with low-cost airlines. This is a decrease of just 3.1% compared to 2019. The flow of travellers from the rest of the world (the remaining 43.8%) decreased by 7.4% compared to before the pandemic. 

Main markets 

In December, the number of passengers arriving in Spain from all major issuing countries increased. Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, the Irish market has recovered the most, at +14.2%, followed by France and Portugal, at +5.8% and +4% respectively. 

On the other hand, the market that has decreased the most is the United States (-17.3%), followed by Sweden (-16.9%) and Germany (-9.8%). The United Kingdom generated 20.1% of the total number of passengers arriving in Spain in December, a decrease of 6.5% compared to 2019 which mainly benefited the Canary Islands. 

79.3% of UK passengers travelled at low cost. Passenger arrivals from Germany decreased by 9.8% compared to 2019, which also benefits the Canary Islands. 51.7% of passengers from Germany arrived in Spain with a traditional company. That is more than the 48.3% that arrived via a low-cost carrier. 

Italy accounted for 9.3% of passengers in December (-8.5%). 77% of them flew with a low-cost airline. France spent 8.6% of the total number of international passengers received in December. An increase of 5.8% in the volumes of 2019. This increase mainly benefited Madrid and Catalonia. 65.7% of all French travellers opted for a low-cost airline. 

The number of Dutch people who travelled to Spain (5% of the total) in December increased by 1.1% compared to 2019. Catalonia, the Valencia region and the Canary Islands were preferred. More than 70% chose low-cost airlines. 

Main destinations 

The combined traffic of the six autonomous communities, which concentrate 96.9% of international arrivals in Spain, was 5.3% lower than in 2019. Madrid was the community with the most arrivals, with 29.1% of the total. 

Also read: International air traffic to Spain in 2023 is expected to break records

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