Over the next two months Palma's Son San Joan airport stands to lose over 600'000 passengers. While each of the Balearics' three airports will see passenger figures continue to fall over the summer, in comparison to last year's passenger figures for July and August, Palma airport will handle an estimated 662'400 less passengers. Data provided by sources for Spanish airport and air traffic control authority AENA yesterday indicate that, this month, Palma will handle 17.977 flights, 12 per cent less than July, 2001*s 20.442. The forecast for August, when the summer season will reach its peak, is a decline from the 20.179 flights handled in August last year, to 19.312. In total, Palma will handle 3.312 less flight movements over the next two months and, with an average of 200 passengers per flight, passenger traffic will be 662.400 people lighter. Ibiza is also braced for a substantial fall this month. In July last year the airport handled 6.331 flights, but this month there are 5.609 flights programmed, 11.4 per cent less and a downturn of 144.400 passengers in Ibiza alone this month. Passenger traffic at Minorca airport is down just under three per cent this month on July last year and August will post a similar decline. However, over the weekend, Palma was one of the busiest airports in Spain and will remain the third busiest this summer, despite the slump in passengers. The weekend was the first “great escape” of the summer in Spain with the summer holidays now under way and millions of people heading for the coasts. AENA said yesterday that the first big domestic weekend of the summer was a success, especially the launch of the annual summer operation with services, facilities and security at all the main holiday airports all having been stepped up. But while there may be extra staff on duty at the Balearics' airports, especially in the service sector, bosses have little to smile about. The added cost of extra staff will only add to their woes of trade and takings having fallen by as much as a third this year because of the lack of passengers.

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