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UK air passenger traffic recovering

Recent results from airport operator BAA<.>, which runs London`s Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports as well as Glasgow,…

Recent results from airport operator BAA<.>, which runs London`s Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports as well as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton, provide clear evidence that air passenger traffic in the UK is recovering. In February this year, for the first time since 11 September, BAA`s passenger handling figures at its seven airports showed a slight gain over the same month in 2001, with the passenger count increasing by 0.3 per cent to 8.2 million passengers.

Although the recovery appears to be across all major markets, most significant is the improvement in North Atlantic traffic. In October 2001, this market was down by 31.1 per cent over the same month in the previous year. By December, North Atlantic traffic was down 13 per cent and in January 2002 the decline was 10 per cent. February`s decline was 7.7 per cent. Other long-haul traffic has also shown consistent improvement – by February 2002, it was down by just 1.4 per cent.

BAA`s results show the continuing strength of low-cost airlines, with exceptional growth at the airports which handle a higher proportion of low-cost flights – most notably Stansted where air traffic was up an astonishing 17.2 per cent in January this year and 16.4 per cent in February. Passenger increases at Edinburgh (up 19 per cent in February) and Glasgow (up 6.4 per cent) were also largely accounted for by the low-cost airlines. BAA says there has been a notable increase in Irish traffic – again fuelled by competitive fares and new low-cost services.

However, looking at overall market performance in 2001 compared with 2000, the only improving markets for BAA were European charters, up 2.3 per cent and the domestic market (up 1.5 per cent). North Atlantic routes declined by 10.9 per cent and other long haul markets were down 2.2 per cent, while the European scheduled airlines and Irish traffic were flat.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.