Palma airport's post September 11 32 per cent slump in passengers is symbolic of the crisis which has hit airports across Europe. While Palma airport bosses are unable to make any predictions about passenger numbers for this coming summer season, a report released yesterday shows that European airports continue to be severely hit by the US attacks and the sharp drop in passengers has heightened the serious situation facing the airport industry. The industry is in severe difficulty and airports are not only struggling to cope with significant reductions in passenger numbers, but they are also faced with the huge costs associated with additional security investments and hugely inflated insurance premiums; hence the rise in airport taxes in Spain. Palma airport's slump hit hardest during the last three months of 2001, but on the year, passenger numbers were down by one per cent and airport chiefs are confident that after the fall, figures can only rise. In December last year, European airports reported an average passenger decrease of one per cent compared to December 2000 and the slump followed an average decrease of 11.22 per cent in November 2001. Palma airport watched passenger figures fall by 10.39 per cent last October, by just under eight per cent in November and in December, passenger figures fell by 14 per cent. September however finished with a slight increase of nearly one per cent with the majority of people having already booked before September 11 and deciding to fly. With regards to Palma's key markets, the number of British passengers fell by four per cent, the Germans by 14 per cent and mainland Spanish by 11 per cent. Since the New Year however the British and Spanish markets have been gradually picking up.

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