Gran Canaria, June 12, 2023 – The Canary Islands continue to soar in popularity as their airports record a staggering 19,838,342 passengers so far this year, marking a remarkable 20.4% increase compared to the first half of 2022, according to the latest data from the Spanish Air Navigation Agency (AENA).
Among these figures, international flights accounted for 11,967,352 passengers, representing a notable 20.7% surge compared to the previous year’s total. Similarly, domestic flights saw a significant rise of 19.9%, with 7,642,792 passengers taking to the skies within the archipelago.

This surge in passenger numbers aligns with an ongoing debate surrounding the carrying capacity of the Canary Islands, which was further fueled during the recent regional elections. The discussion on the islands’ tourism model remains a contentious issue that divides various sectors. On May 28th, multiple political groups, including Nueva Canarias, Podemos, and Drago Verdes Canarias, advocated for the need to control the growth of the tourism sector.

The first steps towards regulation have already been taken on the island of Lanzarote, where measures are underway to declare it a saturated tourist zone. Through this initiative, authorities aim to curb excessive growth in vacation rentals and address the issue of overcrowded tourist movement.

This is not an isolated incident, as the island of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands experienced its highest-ever concentration of people in August 2022, with nearly one and a half million visitors. Residents described it as a “sensation of saturation.”

In the Canary Islands, the debate on tourism is gradually permeating various areas. For example, on May 19th, hundreds of collectives rallied in Arona (Tenerife) demanding measures against mass tourism, such as residency laws, a tourism moratorium, and an eco-tax.

This matter also took center stage in Sunday’s edition of Informe Trópico, where Professor Emma Pérez Chacón emphasized the need to consider whether growth should focus on quantity or quality in the Canary Islands.

Gran Canaria Airport The Busiest in May

According to Aena, a total of 177,247 aircraft movements were recorded until May, representing a 10.9% increase compared to the same period in 2022. However, cargo transport experienced a slight decline of 6.4%, with 12,599 tons transported in comparison to the same months of 2022.

The Canary Islands airports concluded May 2023 with an impressive 3,623,218 passengers, surpassing last year’s figures by 10.4%.

Out of the total passengers on commercial flights in May, 1,938,723 traveled internationally (a 9.4% increase compared to May 2022), while 1,660,156 flew domestically (an 11.6% rise from last year).

Additionally, the airports handled 33,792 aircraft movements in May, a 6.2% increase from 2022. Cargo transport during the same month amounted to 2,441 tons, reflecting an 8% decrease compared to May 2022.

Gran Canaria Airport stood out as the busiest hub in May, serving 998,304 passengers, a notable 10.7% increase compared to May 2022. With the exception of La Palma, all other airports also experienced passenger growth: Tenerife South Airport welcomed 868,770 passengers (+12.1%); César Manrique-Lanzarote, 644,858 (+11.2%); Tenerife North-La Laguna City, 519,878 (+10%); Fuerteventura, 450,757 (+8.8%); La Palma, 116 (-2.9%); El Hierro, 24,186 (+10.9%); and La Gomera, 9,349 passengers, exhibiting the highest percentage growth with a remarkable 32.4% increase compared to May 2022.