When compared to the same three months last year, Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) experienced a 5.6% slump in passenger numbers during the first quarter of 2011. However, the fall, attributed to lower flight capacity over the winter months, has not dampened the spirits of airport chiefs in the northwest; in fact, Robin Tudor, a spokesman for JLA, expects 2011 to be the most profitable year since 2008.
Mr. Tudor told the Liverpool Daily Post that the airport is anticipating an overall passenger boost of 3% for 2011, “which, in the current difficult economic climate, would be good news”. The projected increase, which will create an annual total of 5.25m people, will fall just short of the record set in 2007, when 5.47m passed through the airport’s doors. The following year, 2008, saw Liverpool’s fortunes turn sour, as the recession bit into travellers’ wallets.
JLA’s summer schedule for 2011 includes new easyJet routes to Brussels in Belgium, Tallinn in Estonia, and to Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula. The airline’s rival, Ryanair, has also added flights from JLA to Toulon in France, and to the islands of Kos and Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. EasyJet now operates 32 flights from JLA, compared to Ryanair’s 49. Mr. Tudor noted that several “existing routes” from Merseyside would enjoy increased capacity throughout the warmer months.
With eight months of 2011 remaining on the calendar, JLA’s future is yet to be written. However, Mr. Tudor’s optimism can do little to change the fact that JLA may not be able to return to pre-recession passenger levels until the end of 2012, at the earliest.