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The 2014 summer seasons looks set to offer a welcome relief to the tourism sector in Spain, with an anticipated increase in international visitors to the country, with the Costa Blanca looking to be in a particularly favourable position.

The director of airport operator AENA, Santiago Martínez-Cava, has announced that Alicante-Elche airport is already anticipating 10 million passengers by the end of the year. In this summer alone, which starts on the 30th of March, there are 8.3 million seats available to passengers, representing an increase of 2.8%.

Europe is still the most popular destination of all aircraft movements, with around 40,000 of the anticipated 47,132 aircraft movements now scheduled at Alicante-Elche covering the continent, an increase of 0.8% compared to the summer of 2013, a total increase of 3% of all flights compared to last year, with some 80% of all passengers travelling from outside Spain, with an anticipated total of 7.2 million people travelling within Europe.

The United Kingdom remains the top destination with 45% of total passenger traffic, although the number of seats for this summer has collectively dropped by 2.1%, the route from London Gatwick to Alicante-Elche has increased by 6%.

Russia is the fastest growing destination, with a 68.4% increase in the supply of seats and a 70.3% increase in flights, with almost daily flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg, proving the delicateness and obvious concerns of the stability of the political situation in the country. The next biggest increase is Switzerland, with an increase of 24.8% of seats and 19% more flights, then Belgium with 14.9% more seats and 16.4% more flights.

Flights to Algeria have also seen significant growth, with 29.5% more flights and a 43% increase in seats offered by Vueling on the route to Oran. In total, the annual movement with the North African country is 150,000 passengers, an increase from the 20,000 passengers just a few years ago, almost all linked to trade and business, and Algerians currently seen as being amongst the leaders in terms of foreign investment and the purchase of second homes.

Germany is set to increase with 7.2% more seats and 6.2% more flights, with Norwegian Airlines covering new routes to Cologne, Hamburg and Munich, competing directly with Air Berlin.

In total, this year sees an additional 15 routes added to the Alicante-Elche schedule, with two brand new destinations never before served from Alicante. Those new routes are to Santander in the north of Spain, where many domestic tourists live until they spend the summer at their costal homes, and Rome in Italy, both destinations being offered to airlines with a huge discount to operators to encourage the growth of the routes.

Domestic flights are also offering a positive forecast in the summer, with Ryanair reopening the route to Santiago de Compostela, closed in October 2013, and Vueling´s Santander route, collectively looking at carrying some 8,000 passengers. In addition, strengthened routes to Bilbao, as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands, are all offering a positive outlook.

But, despite the growth forecast, there is one casualty in terms of passenger numbers, that is the flights covering the route between Alicante-Elche and the capital of Madrid, a route which did carry some 800,000 passengers, now barely appealing to 250,000 users per year, the vast majority of which are for interconnecting flights, a significant decline which has been put firmly on the conscience of the operator of the new high speed train link from the capital, seemingly offering a cheaper, and more direct service to the passengers who are now opting to take the train over the plane.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42908/

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