Barajas and El Prat return to pre-pandemic traffic

January 31, 2024
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Airports accelerate in November with a 7.6% increase in passengers over 2019.

One of the lingering consequences of the pandemic in the Spanish airport sector was that Madrid and Barcelona continued to lag behind pre-Covid traffic figures. The more tourist-oriented facilities, such as those in the Canary Islands, Malaga, Palma, and Alicante, surpassed 2019’s record figures months ago.

In November, it’s the turn for Barajas and El Prat. Madrid exceeded pre-Covid levels in January and February of this year, but then consistently remained below. In Barcelona, this had not happened since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. The argument suggesting that the situation has definitively changed lies in the fact that airlines themselves have scheduled 13% more seats for this winter season —from November 2023 to March 2024— compared to 2018-2019, with a 7% increase at the two main airports in the country.

The most significant turning point is El Prat, with 3.83 million users in November, a 44.3% increase from 2019, although the year-to-date decline is still 6.1%, with 46.04 million people. The increased weight of flights to Asia, including Russia and Ukraine, and North American tourists traveling to embark on a cruise, as well as the impact of Brexit, were the main reasons for Barcelona lagging behind. Except for connections with Russia and Ukraine, the rest of the obstacles are beginning to be left behind.

An example: between January and October, the port of Barcelona recorded 3.1 million cruise passengers, a slightly higher figure than the entire 2019 record.


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