Alicante-Elche International Airport History
Built on 4 May 1967 the El Altet Airport has replaced the former airdrome La Rabassa that was serving Alicante since 1936. The El Altet mane is coming from the El Altet area, the part of the Elche countryside, where the airport was constructed. The first commercial flight that has landed in the airport was operated by Aviaco airline.
Later in November 1969, Iberia airline has established the constant flights between Alicante and Madrid and Alicante and Barcelona.
The increased traffic that has reached 1 million passengers in 1970s created the need for a new terminal to be built. Therefore, in 1980 the asphalt runway was extended to approximately 3 kilometers.
In the 1990s the new office building together with the operation and business center were constructed, that was accompanied by the installation of five air bridges to facilitate the boarding process.
In 2011, the new terminal building was opened, that allowed increasing the capacity of the airport to over 20 million passengers annually. All departures and arrivals flights are operated through that single terminal. Terminal 1 and 2 operating before the opening of the new terminal are currently closed, however, there is a plan of building a connecting hallway between the new terminal and terminals 1 and 2.
Currently, the El Altet airport is the base for Air Nostrum, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Vueling, Ryanair, and Evelop Airlines. Initially, until 2003, the Iberia was the leading airline at the airport, however, with the time due to the decline of conventional airlines, in 2004, low-cost EasyJet airline took the leading position. In 2007, Ryanair low-cost airline established a base in the airport as well. Notably, it was the leading airline at the airport for some time with around 3 million passengers flying with that airline per year. However, after October 2011, the airline has cut the number of routes operated due to the disagreement with ENAIRE, air navigation manager in Spain and Western Sahara, on the usage of air bridges.
The number of passengers served annually was increasing starting from 2000, however, 2009 and 2012 years were an exception. By 2015 the largest amount of passengers carried was reached by the Ryanair airline with 2.992.984 passengers flying with them per year, EasyJet has served 1.285.221 passengers during 2015, Vueling has served approximately 1.093.494 passengers, and Norwegian Air Shuttle has served 893.319 passengers.
The busiest day for the airport was registered on 23 July 2016, when 347 flights were handled serving 58.000 passengers.