Salvador Merino is the director of Malaga airport. His transfer to the airport came just over two years ago when he replaced Mario Otero, another native of Galicia in this post. He was given a great role but also an important responsibility as Aena just decided to make a large investment by building Terminal 3 and the second runway, which must be made profitable now - not easy to do with the existing competition in this area. He was asked some questions recently and we share the answers below.
- What is your honest assessment of the entire year 2013 at Malaga airport?
- Frankly, positive, especially given the final outcome showing increases. We closed 2013 with 2.7% more passengers and 0.2% more transactions, the highest figures since 2008 and also very strong because although the year started somewhat smoothly, as the months passed there was encouraging growth despite the current economic scenario.
- The number of passengers has decreased in many Spanish airports, why do you think that number has increased in Malaga?
- Well, people do not travel to see an airport. If there are many people using an airport is because they attracted to a destination. The Costa del Sol has a significant weight and it is being promoted by the institutions and we are seeing a strong transfer of confidence in this destination.
- What is the outlook for 2014?
-We are hoping to continue on the same path of growth, although we are cautious. However, forecasts, as of today, do talk of increases.
- Are you expecting to welcome any new airlines?
We are working towards that goal, but we cannot tell anything more concrete yet, since we have not closed the summer season yet.
- The airlines complain about Aenas rate increases, what do you have to say as a director?
- We understand that no increase is very welcome, especially in an economic scenario like we are seeing at present. However, in the case of Malaga in particular, we have been experiencing increases in traffic steadily during the last year. I would also like to point out the agreement with airlines to provide stability in the rates for the next five years in order to facilitate the management to airlines, and the bonuses implemented for new routes and for increasing frequency, in order to encourage traffic growth.
- What is your assessment of the use of the second runway?
- Positive, of course, since it allows us to have an infrastructure capable of taking on the increases that may occur.
- Will it be used more in 2014?
That will depend on the demand for it. We always use it depending on the specific traffic demand. That is, if we register increases in demand at peak times, its use would be required, while if these demands increases took place in slower times, its use would not be required.
- Can you share an anecdote that happened in 2013?
- More than an anecdote, I would like to address a very nice review of Malaga in general and on our airport in particular that just came to me through the press. It is an endearing article and so well written as we have come to expect from Javier Cercas, in which the author praised how well things were done in Malaga regarding a lost and found object that was found in our airport (and transferred to the owner). Finally, when Cercas showed his amazement to an airport worker, this worker told him it was no surprise, because in Malaga, things were found. I liked it, because in a few words he told a lot, not only about Malaga airport, but also about Malaga in general.