Almost 804,000 passengers passed through the Isle of Man Airport in 2016, the second highest annual total on record.
Figures released by the Department of Infrastructure show an increase of 11,054 air passengers (1.39%) compared with 2015. The solid performance of a number of North West and London routes and a strong finish to 2016 contributed to the positive result.
There was also an increase in the number of passengers using the Isle of Man’s harbours in 2016. The total of 598,018 was up by 5,280 (0.89%) on the previous year, with improvements recorded in seven of the 12 months.
A rise of 2,635 passengers (13.9%) during December 2016 compared with the same period in 2015 provided a significant boost to the overall figure.
Ann Reynolds, Director of Ports, said: ‘The figures at the Isle of Man Airport for December maintained the strong finish to 2016 and continued the general trend of recovery from the dip experienced during the middle of the year. The performance of routes such as London City and Gatwick more than offset the loss of passengers on the Stansted route. The start of the London Luton service from 27 March will also bring a welcome additional option.’
She added: ‘It was also another good year for the Island’s ferry services, with the Steam Packet Company’s reliability and punctuality standing at more than 95% for the year.’
Statistics for 2016 showed that 803,825 passengers passed through the Isle of Man Airport, thanks in part to the best ever North West regional performance. The North West routes carried 384,000 passengers, an increase of 18,000 (4.86%) compared with the previous 12 months.
The London market also performed well, despite the withdrawal of the Stansted route in April 2016. There was an increase of 7.75% on the Gatwick route, while the London City route carried 15,300 more passengers than in 2015.
At the Island’s harbours, almost 565,000 passengers travelled on scheduled ferry sailings, representing 94.1% of the overall total and an increase of 0.5% on 2015.
The Liverpool and Heysham routes both carried approximately 270,000 passengers, while Belfast was up by a third to 21,400.
The Isle of Man also witnessed an increase of nearly 5,000 (47%) in the number of cruise ship visitors compared with the previous year. Fishing activity was down by 16% after a surge in 2015.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK said: ‘The increase in numbers is very encouraging and reflects strong passenger demand for the Island’s sea and air services. The performance at the Airport is particularly noteworthy, with the total at its highest level since 2005. The figures at our harbours include an almost 50% increase in cruise passengers, which is positive news. We will continue to work with our carriers to build on these impressive sets of figures in 2017 and beyond. It is good to see easyJet reinforcing its commitment to the Isle of Man by adding Luton to its existing routes to Gatwick, Liverpool and Bristol.’
He added: ‘Securing good sea and air links with the UK is absolutely vital to the economic and social wellbeing of the Isle of Man and an important part of the Programme for Government.’