MILAN, May 9 (Reuters) - Passenger traffic through Italian airports was down by 4 percent in the first three months of 2013 on a year ago, an industry body said on Friday, despite a significant surge in arrivals in Rome for Easter following the election of Pope Francis.
'The crisis continues in the sector, the first quarter did not go well,' said Vito Riggio, special commissioner of the national civil aviation authority, Enac, at a press conference.
However, Enac's director-general Alessio Quaranta predicted a modest recovery in numbers over the summer months.
A source at Rome airports operator ADR said the heavier traffic at Easter, which was a week earlier this year, was 'definitely due to the Francesco effect', adding that lots of flights arrived from South America.
In neighbouring Spain, where 27 percent of the workforce is jobless and a hike in taxes last year led low-cost carriers to reduce services to Madrid and Barcelona, airport traffic fell 8 percent in April to 49 million passengers.
Madrid's Barajas airport lost over 620,000 travellers in April, a 16 percent drop year-on-year, data from airport authority Aena showed on Friday, while traffic at Barcelona-El Prat fell 4.2 percent.
While Easter fell in March this year, making for an unfavourable comparison in April, Barajas lost a million passengers over the two months compared to 2012, according to the data.
(Reporting By Stefano Bernabei in Milan and Robert Hetz in Madrid; Writing by Isla Binnie and Clare Kane; Editing by Greg Mahlich) Keywords: AIRPORTS/
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