Palma de Mallorca Airport (Aeropuerto de Palma de Mallorca; IATA: PMI, ICAO: LEPA) is an international airport located 8 km (5.0 mi) east of Palma, Majorca, Spain, adjacent to the village of Can Pastilla. Also known as Son Sant Joan Airport or Aeroport de Son Sant Joan, it is the third largest airport in Spain, after Madrid–Barajas and Barcelona. During the summer months it is one of the busiest airports in Europe, and was used by 26.2 million passengers in 2016. The airport is the main base for the Spanish carrier Air Europa and also a focus airport for Ryanair, EasyJet and Vueling.
The history of Palma de Mallorca airport began in the 1920s, when seaplanes were used for postal services to the other Balearic Islands. A flat field next to Son Sant Joan was then used in the 1930s for flight routes to other parts of Spain. A private aerodrome was also set up. In 1938, Palma de Mallorca airport started being used for military aviation, while Iberia and Deutsche Lufthansa established new routes to the military base. In 1954, Palma de Mallorca's runway was extended and asphalted, and also had brand new taxiways and aprons added near it. This made the airport able to serve more airlines and more types of aircraft.
The increase in traffic led to a new terminal being constructed in 1958, and turned the airbase into a large civilian airport. A new large apron was also built. The new airport opened to domestic and international traffic on 7 July 1960. Just two weeks later, expansion to the aerodrome was planned, including the extension of the runway and taxiway. At the end of the year, more plans were made, including a power plant, a communications centre and fire and rescue facilities.
Growth since the 1960s
After reaching 1 million passengers for the first time in 1962, in 1965, a new terminal was constructed, and air navigation services were completed at the end of the following year. Also in 1965 Air Spain began operating from the airport and a smaller terminal, which today is terminal B was planned to be built. Passenger numbers had increased rapidly, reaching 2 million in 1965. A second runway was also to be built. It was to be built parallel to the existing one, and work began on it in 1970. Two years later, terminal B went into service, and the second runway opened in 1974.
In 1980, the airport carried 7 million passengers. However, this increased to nearly 10 million in 1986. This yet again led to a new terminal to be constructed, which is today's current central terminal building where passengers both enter and exit the airport and also check in and retrieve their luggage. Construction started in mid-1993 and was designed by the Majorcan architect Pere Nicolau Bover. During the construction in 1995, passenger numbers exceeded 15 million. The new terminal finally opened in 1997.
Following a decline in passenger numbers at the airport following the September 11 attacks in 2001, numbers rose steadily between 2002 and 2007 when traffic peaked at 23.2 million passengers, however from 2007 there has been a decline in passenger numbers with 21.1 million using the airport in 2010. Today, Palma de Mallorca airport carries over 23.7 million passengers to their destinations, with 178,253 aircraft movements, mostly to mainland Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom.
In November 2015, Air Berlin announced they would shut down their hub operations at the airport which they maintained for over ten years. While all direct flights from Germany and Switzerland remain, all seven domestic connection routes to the mainland - such as flights to Valencia, Bilbao and Sevilla - as well as the route to Faro in Portugal ceased subsequently during spring 2016.
During the Summer months the dual runway airport handles as many movements as London-Gatwick, and on the busiest day of the week as much as 1,100 movements - almost as many as London-Heathrow, the busiest in Europe. According to the operational data provided by AENA, the airport can handle 66 movements per hour or during a 24-hour operational period, almost 1,600 aircraft movements.