THE loss of the services to London City and Southampton are being blamed for a significant drop in passengers numbers at Isle of Man Airport.
Flybe scrapped its Ronaldsway to Southampton operation in February and Irish carrier Aer Arann withdrew its service to London City in early April – although British Airways subsequently stepped in to resurrect the latter route, with flights resuming last week.
Overall, airport passenger numbers in April fell by more than 1,500 compared with the same month last year – a drop of 2.65 per cent.
Nearly 4,000 passengers used the London City route in April last year but this reduced to just over 1,000 last month. Similarly, the 1,330 passengers flying to and from Southampton last April were unable to use the service this year, giving a potential shortfall from the two routes of well over 5,000 passengers.
In the interim, many air travellers transferred to the Flybe Gatwick service, which saw a sharp 20 per cent increase in traffic in April. Passengers on the route were up by some 2,000 and flights to and from Gatwick throughout the month were three quarters full.
Infrastructure Minister David Cretney remains confident that the underlying trend of steady market improvement will return over the next few months.
He said: ‘The loss of both routes recently, especially London City, has been a real blow to the airport and the island.
‘A direct air link with central London, especially the City Financial Centre, is fundamental to the island’s business and economy. I am therefore delighted that BA CityFlyer has decided to take up the London City route and I am sure that over the next few months, once the route has become re-established, the steady upward trend will again continue.’
Services to Blackpool, Manchester and Liverpool were all up in April, providing an increase in North West traffic of 1,260 passengers.
Airport director Ann Reynolds said the launch of the Manx2.com London Oxford route earlier in the month and Flybe/Loganair’s new weekly link to Norwich provided a great alternative for those flying to and from central-southern England and East Anglia respectively.
Overall, passenger numbers of the airport in April were 55,917, down from 57,438 the previous year – and significantly down from the figure of 65,206 they were in April 2008, before the global economic downturn hit.