THE government-controlled airport operator AENA has slashed airport fees in a bid to boost traffic figures.

The move reverses one made last year which saw it increase taxes across its network by an average 19%.

In Madrid and Barcelona, however, fees swelled almost two-fold leading Ryanair to cut passenger capacity at Madrid to 3.4 million from 5.3 million, and at Barcelona´s El Prat airport from 5.4 million to 4.2 million.

Rival EasyJet ceased to use Madrid Bajaras as a base.

The move resulted in a 22% drop in visitor numbers in August compared to the same time last year, while there was a 7.7% fall in numbers during the first eight months of the year.

The revised fees come into effect on January 1, and will affect new routes and airlines that boost traffic.