During talks over Spain’s Flight Development Fund, Canary Islands Regional Government Minister of Tourism, Yaiza Castilla, this week asked Spanish Central Government Tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, to provide a specific plan for the islands aimed at allowing the archipelago to recover all the lost the air connectivity that has resulted from the covid-19 pandemic.
She pointed out that other competing destinations, such as Turkey and Egypt, are already investing in recovering lost connectivity. Adding that if we do not start up in the Canary Islands very soon, the archipelago will be at a disadvantage when tourism demand eventually reactivates.
The first call for funding from the Flight Development Fund, endowed with €500,000 for routes that start operating in April and May, closed last week with a total of 20 applications. The Ministry of Tourism is now working on analysing the documentation and calculating each applicant.
Canary Islands, air connectivity has been greatly affected by covid. The pandemic has almost halved the destinations to which you can fly from the Canary Islands. Of the 146 with whom there was a flight before covid, between the islands and the peninsula and abroad, 74 remain, after having lost 72, according to the official comparison of connectivity data from the Canary Islands Ministry of Tourism, between February 2019 and February 2021. To those 72 we must add the routes now lost with Morocco as that country has once again closed its borders, bringing the figure to around 80 destinations lost.
Connections to these 146 destinations were operated by 44 airlines, bringing the number of total air routes to 732 per month. In the meeting with Minister Reyes Maroto, the Regional Minister indicated that, despite the benefits offered by these incentives, “they do not come close” to what will be needed to recover all the lost connectivity. The Canary Islands have stopped operating flights from 80 cities or airports during the pandemic. If the more than 40 airlines that operated with the islands before covid, who have now stopped, are taken into account, the routes cut account for 64% of air connectivity prior to COVID-19. Those 732 monthly air routes now reduced to just to 262.
Compared to the 13,849 flights that were counted in February 2019 to and from the Canary Islands, this number fell to just 5,243 in 2021. Among the heaviest losses among frequent routes are included Barcelona, which fell from 308 to 117 flights per month; Berlin, which had 194 and now just 48; Dublin, fell from 175 to 31 flights; Dusseldorf, from 269 to 60; Edinburgh, from 111 to 8; Glasgow, from 122 to 16; Hamburg, from 154 to 20; London-Stansted, 211 to just 12; Madrid, from 935 to 335; Malaga, from 103 to 15; Manchester, from 399 to 58 flights a month; Newcastle, from 118 to 16; Seville, from 130 to 22 and Munich, from 153 to 51, among others.
The Government of the Canary Islands plans to draw up a second Flight Development Fund for the second half of this year and will be seeking a greater amount to recover part of these lost routes.