Passenger traffic passing through the Isle of Man Airport during May virtually matched 2011 levels with 58,915 passengers using the airport, just 35 fewer than in May 2011. Whilst this is the second consecutive month that there has been a small decline, this did not come as a surprise given that for almost the whole month, the popular London City route was not operated, nor was the Southampton service. It was only from 28 May that British Airways started their new service on the London City route with a single daily flight and this will be increased to the full three daily service from 25 June.
Last year nearly 4,000 passengers flew on the London City route and, when it became unavailable, many opted to transfer to Flybe’s Gatwick service last month. As a result the Gatwick passenger numbers were up by 33% with flights averaging 77% full for the month. The launch of the daily Oxford service on behalf of Manx2.com on 8 May also helped to relieve the shortage of capacity to the South East, and flights on this new route were an impressive two thirds full for the first three weeks of operation. The combined affect has meant that South East Traffic actually fell by only 54 passengers during the month.
Ann Reynolds, Airport Director, recognised that May was a month where substantial route changes were bound to affect passenger numbers. “We are actually very comfortable to again be essentially matching the 2011 passenger traffic levels” she admitted. “The lack of the Southampton route, London City service cut, together with other South East service reductions, have effectively meant that well over 5,600 passengers have either been unable to fly or have had to find other air services to use. However, with 3,500 more flying from Gatwick, 580 taking advantage of the new Oxford route, and 200 hopping onto the new British Airways service to City Airport when it started at the end of the month, this shortfall has been reduced considerably.”
Despite the introduction of the Oxford route, both Gloucester and Bristol numbers increased, but the loss of the Southampton route hit South and Southwest totals hard with numbers down 1,250, many again electing to transfer to the Gatwick or Oxford routes. The first flight from Anglesey for the summer was virtually full and the new Norwich service also started on 26th May.
Again the Northwest dominated the increase in traffic with over 1,850 more passengers using the Manchester and Liverpool routes. Liverpool saw a 12.7% increase with easyJet up by a third and Flybe also seeing an increase. Charter numbers were significantly down, this being due to many of the first departures to the Mediterranean departing in the first week of June rather than the end of May, so June charter figures should reflect this positively. Indeed, overall, IOM scheduled traffic saw a slight increase of 159 passengers over May 2011.
Departmental Member for Ports, David Callister MLC, is optimistic about the performance of the Airport passenger traffic as the year progresses. “Whilst I recognize that the new services – including the British Airways London City route – will take a little time to grow to their full potential and the next few months will reflect that, the signs are that people are still anxious to make the air trip and this is encouraging,” he said. “I am therefore optimistic that we will see a gradual improvement in passenger numbers during 2012, particularly towards the end of the year.”