Graz Airport passenger figures edge up as cargo volume soars

Graz Airport bosses blamed the ash cloud-enforced cancellations for failing to break the one million passenger hurdle last year.CEO Gerhard Widmann announced today (Tues) that the airport, which is located around 10 kilometres outside the city centre of Graz, recorded 990,118 passengers in 2010, 4.4 per cent more than in the previous year.But Widmann pointed out the airport’s business was harmed by the thousands of flight cancellations all over Europe after the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull last March and the ash cloud which then covered vast parts of the continent for weeks.The businessman praised low budget carriers like Air Berlin, FlyNiki and Ryanair for making Graz Airport a more attractive travel option by increasing their activities.Widmann also said that the volume of cargo traffic at the airport soared by 34.4 per cent to 11,062 tons year on year in 2010.Graz Airport is the country’s fourth-busiest aerodrome. Vienna International Airport (VIA), the Austrian number one, registered 14.87 million customers in the first three quarters of last year. Salzburg Airport (2008: 1.8 million passengers) comes second ahead of Innsbruck Airport which had 956,972 customers in 2009.Business figures of all of the country’s largest airports may be affected by a new flight ticket tax which will come into effect in April.The joint federal administration of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) announced in October every ticket will be charged with eight to 35 Euros depending on the flights’ destinations.The government said it expected additional revenue of 60 million Euros from the controversial levy, while critics warned that the plan may backfire. Airline chiefs and some economists claimed the tax could threaten all branches of the Austrian economy since the number of flight bookings may decline as an effect.