EUROPE. Travel to European holiday destinations was up +11.6% year-on-year in May as Greece and Turkey showed especially strong results.

Analyst Air4casts assessed 100 destinations across six countries to obtain its latest figures, and said European holiday traffic during the month “was exceptional by any standards”.

Source (all charts): Air4casts

Air4casts noted that Turkey had firmly regained its position as the top destination for Russian tourists. In the 12 months to the end of May some 5.2 million Russians visited the country, according to official Turkish government statistics.

Greece is again expecting well over 30 million tourists this year, the analyst said, while Italy and France each showed strong growth at both holiday and national levels.

However, Spain was an exception to the good overall results, Air4casts noted. Together, Spanish airports registered a +4.2% traffic increase in the month, and represented broadly half of all holiday traffic in May, but growth was slow compared to previous months.

Air4casts said performance was affected by the resurgence of Turkey (+18.2%) and Greece (+22.2%) as major holiday destinations. 2017 was also a high comparison base as traffic last year was “exceptionally good”, Air4casts said.

“It follows that the market is changing in two respects: classic holiday destinations did rather poorly in May,” it commented. “Madrid was a tenth of a point off 10% while Barcelona’s positive result was only diminished by its tourist content.

“While single issue analysis should always be used with caution, one of the prime causes of the present difficulties at some Spanish holiday airports is the UK.”

Air4casts said Alicante–Elche Airport was a good example. It handled just over a million passengers in May with traffic down -0.1%. The analyst noted that while the -1.4% point decline in April might be attributed to Easter seasonality, May cannot be.

The latest numbers for UK airports show that the top three UK airports with routes to Alicante (London Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham) are all down by double digits and they have a 40% traffic share. London Stansted is an exception, with an increase of almost +30% points. Air4casts also noted that charter flights were not to blame as they represent no more than 6% of UK/Alicante passenger traffic.