GIBRALTAR airport finished off 2022 with a 70% increase in passenger movements compared to the year before, bringing it close to pre-pandemic levels.
Nearly half a million people arrived or departed via the airport, but it was hindered by the Brexit process that means European airlines cannot fly directly from the UK to Gibraltar.
Despite this, there are 39 flights a week from the UK every week this summer, with London Heathrow and Gatwick being the two main connecting airports.
The report was part of Minister for Business, Tourism and the Port Vijay Daryanani’s budget statement.
He said the recovery also continues to grow, with the first quarter of 2023 showing passenger levels were up nearly a quarter on the same period last year.
British Airways have helped this quota by adding an extra flight to Heathrow every Saturday.
“This is good for overnight tourism, retail, restaurants, our hotels, and Gibraltar PLC as a whole,” Daryanani said.
Easyjet also put on a daily service to Manchester, while they also run 3 flights to and from Bristol every week.
“This has become a very popular route with our passengers and provides excellent access to the northern part of the United Kingdom,” the minister added as he draws near to his first term in office.
“Manchester Airport is itself becoming an important hub with 171 destinations and this service brings with it excellent opportunities to expand connections with Gibraltar.”
But he rued Gibraltar Aiport ‘flight disruptions due to issues outside its control’ caused mainly by the absence of Ministry of Defence Met Office staff and technical issues.
“The Ministry of Defence must ensure that all of the services it provides for the proper functionality of the airfield are adequately resourced so that flight operations to Gibraltar Airport can continue without interruption,” he said.
Daryanani also mocked the Opposition’s spokesperson on tourism that once compared it to Malaga airport he said was getting ‘higher levels of activity’.
“Doesn’t he know that Gibraltar airport cannot receive flights from Europe?” he asked rhetorically.
“Malaga airport had 19.85 million passenger movements in 2019 – what a ridiculous comparison.
“If that is the level of his understanding of the airline industry, then god help us!”
Gibraltar airport has been one of the bones of contention at EU treaty talks with Spain demanding its shared use.